One of the first things beginning traders are told to do is create a trading plan that outlines a trading strategy and a list of rules to follow to implement that strategy. The only problem with that advice is that beginning traders don’t really have any trading experience and therefore get lost when trying to come up with a trading plan for their trades.
Another problem with business plans is that beginners are instructed to treat their plans as gospel and are told not to deviate from them. This prevents traders from adapting their strategies and rules to improve their performance, an essential step in every trader’s learning curve.
Rather than creating a rigid document early in your business career that should never be changed, you should view your business plan as a set of living, breathing guidelines, which can be modified as you gain business experience. This article will teach you how to create a business plan that will guide your business efforts without delaying your progress.
The 7 Point Business Plan Template
When creating your business plan, these are the elements to include:
1. Markets – What markets will you focus on? Be as specific as possible: If you are trading stocks, what types of stocks will you focus on?
2. Calendar – How long will you keep your posts? Will you be a day trader who will focus on trades that will last a few minutes, or a swing trader who will carry out trades for a few days?
3. Time period – What hours of the day will you operate? You may have outside responsibilities that prevent you from negotiating an entire trading day. Choose which moments of the day best suit your style.
4. Business style – How would you characterize your business style? Perhaps you are a momentum trader focusing on trending stocks? Or maybe you specialize in a particular sector? Again, this can and will change as you gain experience and learn from its results.
5. Risk management rules – This is an absolutely essential and often overlooked component of your business plan. How will you manage your risk, both per trade and overall? You should have a “stop trading” point, which is a fixed dollar amount that will force you to stop trading if you are too depressed.
6. Mentor – Who do you follow and who do you learn from as a teacher? Trying to learn to trade on your own is not only lonely, but foolish as it ignores the hard-won wisdom of other traders. You can repeat the mistakes of other professionals and hope to eventually learn the lessons and techniques they have learned, or you can simply learn from successful traders and avoid those initial frustrations.
7. Learning process – How will you structure your learning process as a trader? What steps will you take to make sure you are always improving? How will you structure your trading journal?
Business plan example
To show you this business plan template in action, I will complete it according to my own business style:
1. I trade the US equity markets, focusing on volatile stocks with sufficient volume. These stocks are often the center of the news and are therefore “up for grabs”.
2. I am a day trader and I hold my positions from a few seconds to a few hours. I am primarily a reseller and looking to take advantage of short-term imbalances between supply and demand. I will stay in a trade as long as I can identify an imbalance between supply and demand.
3. I trade throughout the trading day, although I focus most of my activity on the opening and closing of the trading day.
4. While I have multiple styles, I would primarily characterize myself as a momentum trader who relies on tape reading to identify favorable risk / reward situations to enter in the direction of a trend.
5. I am a fan of managing my risk, both for trade and in general. Every trade I enter has a predefined stop loss and I have a daily stop loss to stop trading when I have a rough day.
6. I have had a variety of mentors throughout my career and now speak to a select group of merchants in my company with similar business styles.
7. I review each one of the operations that I carry out, always looking for ways in which I can improve. This can be as simple as reducing my risk by trading certain stocks or altering my execution patterns.
Your trading plan can be as simple as that, just a series of statements that answer those 7 questions. You also shouldn’t spend too much time creating your trading plan, as it will change frequently throughout your career.
Your business plan will crystallize exactly what you’re trying to accomplish, but don’t see it as set in stone. Rather, your plan will grow and change as you gain experience and develop your own negotiating style.
Your plan of operations doesn’t need to be a complicated document spanning multiple pages, either. You simply need to define in which markets you are going to trade, how you are going to trade them (how long you will hold positions, what hours of the day you are going to trade and your trading style), how you are going to manage your risk and how you are going to continue developing as a trader. By explicitly clarifying and stating those 7 key points, your business plan will serve and support you in your business career.