A stop loss is a predetermined amount of risk that a trader is willing to accept with each trade. The stop loss can be a dollar amount or percentage, but either way, it limits the trader’s exposure during a trade. Using a stop loss can take some of the stress out of trading since we know that we will only lose X amount on any given trade.
Not having a stop loss is bad practice, even if it leads to a winning trade. Exiting with a stop loss, and therefore having a losing trade, is still good trading if it falls within the trading plan’s rules.
The ideal is to exit all trades with a profit, but that is not realistic. Using a protective stop loss helps ensure that losses and risks are limited.
Taking the time to develop a sound trading methodology is worth the effort. It may be tempting to believe in the “so easy it’s like printing money” trading scams that are prevalent on the internet. But facts, not emotions or hope, should be the inspiration behind developing a trading plan.
Traders who are not in a hurry to learn typically have an easier time sifting through all of the information available on the internet. Consider this: if you were to start a new career, more than likely you would need to study at a college or university for at least a year or two before you were qualified to even apply for a position in the new field. Learning how to trade demands at least the same amount of time and fact-driven research and study.
Before you start using real cash, make sure that all of the money in that trading account is truly expendable. If it’s not, the trader should keep saving until it is.
Money in a trading account should not be allocated for the kids’ college tuition or paying the mortgage. Traders must never allow themselves to think they are simply borrowing money from these other important obligations.
Losing money is traumatic enough. It is even more so if it is capital that should have never been risked in the first place.
Think of it as continuing education. Traders need to remain focused on learning more each day. It is important to remember that understanding the markets, and all of their intricacies, is an ongoing, lifelong process.
Hard research allows traders to understand the facts, like what the different economic reports mean. Focus and observation allow traders to sharpen their instincts and learn the nuances.
World politics, news events, economic trends—even the weather—all have an impact on the markets. The market environment is dynamic. The more traders understand the past and current markets, the better prepared they are to face the future.
Saving enough money to fund a trading account takes a great deal of time and effort. It can be even more difficult if you have to do it twice.
It is important to note that protecting your trading capital is not synonymous with never experiencing a losing trade. All traders have losing trades. Protecting capital entails not taking unnecessary risks and doing everything you can to preserve your trading business.
Trading is a competitive business. It’s safe to assume that the person sitting on the other side of a trade is taking full advantage of all of the available technology.
Charting platforms give traders an infinite variety of ways to view and analyze the markets. Backtesting an idea using historical data prevents costly missteps. Getting market updates via smartphone allows us to monitor trades anywhere. Technology that we take for granted, like a high-speed internet connection, can greatly increase trading performance.
Using technology to your advantage, and keeping current with new products, can be fun and rewarding in trading.
To be successful, you must approach trading as a full- or part-time business, not as a hobby or a job.
If it’s approached as a hobby, there is no real commitment to learning. If it’s a job, it can be frustrating because there is no regular paycheck.
Trading is a business and incurs expenses, losses, taxes, uncertainty, stress, and risk. As a trader, you are essentially a small business owner and you must research and strategize to maximize your business’s potential.
A trading plan is a written set of rules that specifies a trader’s entry, exit and money management criteria for every purchase.
With today’s technology, it is easy to test a trading idea before risking real money. Known as backtesting, this practice allows you to apply your trading idea using historical data and determine if it is viable. Once a plan has been developed and backtesting shows good results, the plan can be used in real trading.
Sometimes your trading plan won’t work. Bail out of it and start over.
The key here is to stick to the plan. Taking trades outside of the trading plan, even if they turn out to be winners, is considered poor strategy.
It’s important for traders to remain flexible and consider experimenting from time to time. For example, you might consider using options to mitigate risk. One of the best ways a trader can learn is by experimenting (within reason). The experience may also help reduce emotional influences.
Finally, traders should periodically assess their own performances. In addition to reviewing their returns and individual positions, traders should reflect on how they prepared for a trading session, how up to date they are on the markets, and how they’re progressing in terms of ongoing education. This periodic assessment can help a trader correct mistakes, change bad habits, and enhance overall returns.
Traders need to become experts in the stocks and industries that interest them. Keep on top of the news, educate yourself and, iif possible, go to trading seminars and attend conferences.
Devote as much time as possible to the research process. That means studying charts, speaking with management, reading trade journals, and doing other background work such as macroeconomic analysis or industry analysis.