The Trading Psychology Plan

No discussion about trading, or the consideration to begin trading, can be done without a harsh realization – the vast majority of all traders lose.It is said that the reason that most traders lose is because they are not psychologically prepared to trade, that is they are not prepared to accept financial risk for something of which they have no control over the outcome. Trading is much more of a psychological problem then a methodological one, only the traders who have first accepted this have a chance of being consistently successful traders. Without an understanding of trading psychology and the various issues that circumvent method, there will be virtually no chance to overcome the fear, confusion, and despair that can be inherent in trading. Ultimately, after a series of consecutive losses, method becomes replaced with a feeling that it is impossible to do anything right; if for no other reason than this situation, trading psychology is more critical than trading method.New Trader ScenarioConsider a scenario where a trader develops a method for day trading an index future. The method gives 15 trades per day, and the trader has gotten to the point where they are able to paper trade with the following results: 9 wining trades averaging $85 each, and 6 losing trades averaging -$65 each – thus giving $375 average daily gains. The trader has achieved these results for three consecutive months; their paper trading goals have been met and it is time to start trading real money.Real money trading begins, but things quickly change. Instead of trading their method like they did when paper trading, the trader starts ‘skipping’ trades trying to pick the winners instead of accepting the 40% losers; of course, they invariably pick more losers than winners. Trying to then correct this problem, the trader decides that maybe they are entering their trades too late. So now instead of letting the setup complete and then doing the trade, the trigger is anticipated so the trade can be entered earlier – the losses get worse.With the continued losses the emotions take over: “What is wrong, why am I such a pathetic loser? Maybe it’s not my fault, maybe the method just doesn’t really work.”The problems get worse with each trade, more emotions and more loses – the trader quits trading. The trader now decides that their paper trading results weren’t really adequate to begin real money trading. They will go back to paper trading and studying again.Thoughts that are going through the trader’s mind now: “Maybe I should try different trading methods until I can eliminate those losing trades – then I will be ready to trade real money again. Really, maybe I should just quit trading altogether – maybe I am just a loser, and that’s why I can’t trade.”The Trading Psychology PlanWhat should be very apparent from this scenario is that the trader never traded their paper trading method plan after transitioning to real money trading. Unfortunately, the trader is unable to realize what they have done, instead their emotions first place blame on the method thinking that it really doesn’t work, and then on themselves for being “such a pathetic loser”. The final result being that the trader quits trading, and if the real underlying reasons for what has happened aren’t accepted and changed, this trader will never be able to trade real money even if their paper trading results become 100% winners, which of course is not going to happen.The trader had a trading method plan, but they did not have a trading psychology plan. They did not have a way to make the transition from fear and emotion directed trading to actually trading the method as designed. They did not have a plan to objectively access and understand their given non-method actions, and then define a ‘setup’ for replacing them.The trading psychology plan must begin with an honest assessment and acceptance for what really happened: the trader never traded their method plan; there is no other blame to be placed, or excuses to be made. There is nothing wrong with the trading plan, and regardless, the trader has not traded it in order to be able to make that evaluation. As well, traders cannot internalize trade loses where they lead to their viewpoint of themselves – you are not a loser because your trade is a loser.Trading Psychology Plan Componentso Accept that losing will be a normal part of trading. Not only is it impossible to be perfect, it is not an objective or necessary to be a profitable trader.o Replace the focus of winning and losing with the objective of following your plan. This was not done while paper trading, as the trader had a specific profitability goal that they used to tell them when they were prepared to trade real money. They did not understand that the reason they achieved this goal was because of how they followed their plan.o Remain neutral and non-judgmental towards yourself. If profitable trading is ever going to be possible, this is mandatory. There is no way that you are going to be able to trust yourself to manage risk while you are also telling yourself that you are ‘stupid’ or a ‘pathetic loser’ each time you lose or feel that you have done something wrong.o Eliminating your emotions is not the objective; I actually do not think this is possible. Emotions are always going to enter into trading – learn to control the emotions, instead of having them control you.o Accept that emotions are a part of life; they aren’t by definition good or bad, and actually if you can shift the focus of what the emotion represents, they can be very beneficial for the trader. For instance, if I am feeling confused and that causes an emotional response or hesitation, I want to feel that emotion. This emotion becomes a warning to me that I should wait and try to find more chart-market clarity before taking a trade, something that can be very typical when markets are in congestion.o Start slowly – this may be the most important component of your plan. For instance, begin trading real money for an hour at a time, and then assess what you have done, always asking yourself the question: did I follow my plan, or did I take non-method trades.Granted, you will not be able to approximate your paper trading results as the expectancy of that plan was achieved by averaging 15 trades per day. However, not only will this help further to shift the focus from how much money did I make to did I follow my plan, it will also allow you to acclimate to the logistics of real time-real money execution, and the related initial emotions, where all of a sudden the market feels like it is moving considerably faster. By doing this you will ‘build-up’ to trading your full plan at a pace that won’t cause you to become so overwhelmed by the process, and immediately cause you to avoid what you had intended to do as fear and emotion becomes too strong.You have a great trading method and trading plan. You have profitably paper traded, and you ARE now ready to start trading real money – just be sure that you have a trading psychology plan that is as good as your trading method plan, and that you realize that neither will be of any use to you without the other.

Small Business Project Management: Six Pros and Cons

Growth hungry small businesses today in the UK and indeed throughout the world face the challenge of balancing two competing objectives. Firstly, businesses must maintain and standardise current business processes in order to give your business the chance to get really good at what it does through experience curve effects. Greater business efficiency normally translates into a better customer experience and higher profits. Secondly, businesses must transform business operations in order to survive and compete in the future. How well we are able to achieve the right balance for our business will ultimately determine if we survive and go on to thrive or go the way of so many small businesses into market irrelevancy and insolvency.You may well be thinking right now what has this got to do with project management? To understand that we first need to understand the fundamental differences between projects and day to day business operations. Whilst many of the skills required to manage your “business as usual” activities are the same as those needed to manage projects, there are some crucial differences. Amongst the most significant differences are that project work tends to be at least cross functional and often cross organisational and every project will be unique in some way rather than following the predictable pattern of business as usual. These characteristics of projects introduce opportunities and risks over and above those encountered in business as usual. In short, projects are riskier than day to day business, and therefore need a different management approach.Projects are the means by which we introduce change in organisations. All businesses that are making any attempt to adapt to face future challenges have projects. Common examples of projects in small businesses may include setting up a company website, establishing the office in a new location, or implementing a new product but it can be any temporary activity or set of activities that have a specific output associated with it. Businesses increase their productive capacity one project at a time. Indeed, for ambitious small companies looking to grow and expand, the need to initiate the right projects and achieve the desired results is even more vital l than it is for huge national and multi-national businessesDespite the obvious need for a project management (PM) approach, most small businesses don’t bother. This constitutes a huge missed opportunity as effective project management impacts the bottom line. For example, research by the CBP shows that project management improvement initiatives improve project performance by up to 50% for the first project and can continue for each new project if the business offers ongoing project management tools and support. We could emphasise this point further by citing the Standish Group, who in their CHAOS Report conservatively estimates that 20% of money spent on projects is wasted because companies don’t have a consistent approach to project management.Let’s take a look at six reasons I often hear from small business owners that choose not to bother with project management and then critically address the misconceptions behind these reasons.1. Project management practices take more timeHaving a process to follow may add time to the duration of an activity. Doing something properly will almost always take a little bit more time than adopting a slapdash approach. However, if you where building a house, would you rather have a quality end result that took a little longer, or would you prefer to have it done quickly but with lots of problems? Given that poorly executed projects can be completely de-rail a small business if they go badly, doing it well is essential, and PM processes help ensure things are done well.2. Project management eats into the cash that I need to grow my businessA common misconception is that it is hugely expensive to implement PM process. The reality is that there are many free or low-cost sources of advice, techniques, tools, templates and project management services readily available and accessible through the Internet. If done correctly, any small business can implement PM processes, techniques and tools with very little cost. The likelihood is that small business owners are already using software and other tools that can be used for project management. For example, certain email software, spreadsheets, and other common software applications offer good templates for project management, especially if used in collaboration with some of the low cost project management services available for small businesses3. Project management requires skills that I don’t have and cannot afford to hireAlthough it does require specialised skills and experience to be an accomplished project manager, these are skills that can be learned over time. To move further up the learning curve faster, it is possible to take a PM course in as little as four or five days. Most small business owners tend to possess the knowledge needed for project management, and courses such as the Prince 2 Practitioner course would build on these skills while introducing the specific theories, tools, and processes essential for project management. Whilst business owners might not emerge from a course as a project expert, they would certainly learn valuable skills to apply to their small business.4. I don’t need the hassle or paperwork of project management.Every entrepreneur that starts their own business will, at some point, need to do a risk assessment, a marketing campaign or apply for finance. Being knowledgeable in project management and applying associated tools such as stakeholder analysis, communication planning and risk management will not only assist in many of these tasks, but will provide your small business with a competitive edge over competitors who do not approach.5. Project management will slow me down and I need to stay agile.Modern PM methodologies all acknowledge the importance of a tailored approach to project management. If your project requires speed, the right methodology can enable you to move quickly. Just as important, however, it will provide you with techniques to understand whether some proposed projects are worth pursuing at all. Rushing into situations without thoroughly understanding your environment is hazardous to the health of any project and potentially to the health of the business as a whole6. I am an expert in my industry, I don’t need project management.Most small businesses are started by a person who already has some expertise in their industry. This is unquestionably an advantage; however, project management should still be used to convert plans into reality. The main reasons for project failure tends to be poor planning, lack of capital, and lack of management. Project management, while not a cast-iron guarantee of success, will assist the small business in mitigating some of the common risks that so often cause project failure amongst small businesses.Even a brief look at the reasons often posited by small business owners for failing to approach projects in a systematic and different way that recognises their inherent riskiness and addresses some of the more challenging aspects of project work shows them to be of dubious merit. Without question, the quality of project outputs would be greatly enhanced and the cost of and time taken in delivering project benefits using a project methodology appropriate to the scale of the project.

Small Business Startup Guide

Often small ideas can provide big pay offs! You can always start a small business with little amount of funds. As the business grows it will generate profit which can be used for further development. However a large part of the profits can be consumed in meeting day to day expenditures. You must reserve some money to stay in the cycle. However, by the end of the day profits will matter the most. So if your business is just surviving then you should try diversifying your products and services. This will ensure that you are offering what you competitors are not, expanding your horizons for future growth and sustenance.However, Small businesses are often aimed at serving a highly selective market. This is a great way to survive in a competitive marketplace. Moreover, you do not have to purchase great quantities of supplies unlike several large businesses. This ensures ongoing survival even when supplies are short. Another benefit of small businesses is that they can work on seasonal basis. Like small scale producers of leather products have a booming business during winters. In this way the profits generated in one small business can be invested into another and you can run several businesses depending upon the season.Once you know what kind of business you want, you can move on to establish it. Therefore, when starting a business you may consider about its size. As there are many types of business, ranging from small scale to large scale businesses. However, to have a good start you need to take several steps. These steps will help in smooth running of your business. Usually small business consists of sole proprietorship and partnerships. Where as large businesses include public or private companies. Small business can be a family business. It can also be a partnership between two or more parties. Partnerships are limited to certain number of partners; usually there are five to seven partners in it. In order to start your small business you have to register your company first. However there are certain benefits of small businesses. In case of sole proprietorship, owner has a complete control over the business. Therefore, he receives all the profits generated by company. This leads to better management of resources. More over there is flexibility in small business. Every one enjoys being a part of small company as it has warm atmosphere that is appreciated every where.Partnerships are a great way of starting small business. There are several benefits of partnership. Each partner brings with himself plenty of resources that are proving valuable in development of company. Partners provide useful suggestions in handling business affairs. In this way most issues can be solved by collective decision making. Another benefit of having partners is that they increase company’s work force by introducing new employees. This immensely helps the company in building up a team of highly professional personnel. An added advantage of partnership is that you can easily get a loan from bank to expand your business. Starting a new business will require certain amount of funds and resources. However, with proper planning and initiative, you can embark on a successful small scale business.