Plan For Success: A Trading Plan Primer

Let me tell you what’s essentialy an open secret for stock traders: a trading plan is pretty much the only way to succeed in the stock market. Actually, it should be pretty obvious: well-made plans have always guaranteed success for anyone who’s set out to do something, from a lowly carpenter to a well-respected general. What I’m going to be telling you about now is how to set-up your own trading plan so you can walk that path to profit and success.

Let’s start with what a trading plan is not: a trading plan is not some vague instructions on a piece of paper, gathered advice from well-worn trading books, no. That’s what you call a roadmap to disaster. The stock market is a treacherous place and going into it with only vague instructions will have you end up bankrupt faster than a blink of an eye. Trading plans, real trading plans, are seriously thought out pieces of self-examination and complete research into a market or a field. They are like mirrors of a trader’s personality, guiding him to do actions that would maximize profit and minimize loss.

So, how are these masterpieces created? First of all, good trading plans are made from the bottom up. The foundation for these plans are made when a trader takes stock of himself: what his personality is, what his interests are and what he is aiming for. Goals often define a person and plans are no different. When you’re starting to make a trading plan, you should ask yourself this question: what exactly am I hoping to gain with this plan? Financial security’s a good answer but it needs something a bit more specific. Setting a weekly profit and loss margin for yourself would be a good start, then slowly working yourself up to monthly, then yearly. Creating goals in this manner give you something to aim for and define a sense of progress for yourself. Of course, you shouldn’t aim too high or you’ll end up getting disappointed.

Next thing on the agenda is what market and stocks you’ll be trading in. There’s an old saw that goes that you should get a job you enjoy so it won’t feel like work and that holds true here, too: choosing a field that you have prior knowledge about or interest in can help you keep focused on the market’s progression. That way you won’t suddenly find yourself caught by some new trend and end up losing money. Once you’ve chosen the market, that’s when good-old research comes in. Picking stocks by performance and your goals should be easy, although you sometimes have to dig a bit deep to find any underlying patterns to their progression.

Finally, you should set-up your trading strategies. Trading strategies pretty much hinge on your personality. If you’re a bit of worrier, then you’ll probably be aiming for conservative strategies, the ones that aim for slow but sure profits over the long term. But if you’re the daredevil-type who wanst that big payout immediately, buying and selling volatile stock would probably be more fitting for your personality. Remember to try and make your trading plan’s strategies work with your personality, that way it would be easier to follow. Risk-taking trades would probably be too much mentally for a conservative trader and slow, boring ones would put a risk-taker to sleep, with the same end result of you suddenly becoming careless and losing a lot of money.

Well, that’s pretty much the basics of trading plans. If you want to know more, there are several good books and resources available on the market and the Internet.