By Nial Fuller
While this is not an easy goal to achieve, it can be done if you are willing to be disciplined and change the way you think about trading the markets. In today’s Forex trading lesson, I am going to share with you my honest and practical insight on how to successfully trade with a small trading account. So, if you’ve been lying awake at night, unable to sleep because you just can’t seem to make any consistent progress on your small trading account, this article is for you.
Before we dive into the details of today’s lesson, it’s worth noting that you are not experiencing difficulty in your trading because you have a small trading account. To be honest with you, the size of your trading account has no bearing on whether or not you are a successful Forex trader. A successful Forex trader is not necessarily a full-time professional trader, this is a myth you need to forget about right now.
You need to view success in the markets as a function of what is possible given the size of your trading account. So, if you have a $2,000 trading account and you are consistently making $200 a month, you should consider yourself a successful Forex trader, even though you obviously cannot live on $200 a month, more on this later.
Some people come into the markets with a $50,000 or $100,000 account and lose all their money in a short period of time. While other traders start with $1,000 and parlay that small amount into a substantial trading account over time. The determining factor of success lies not in the size of the trader’s account but in their beliefs about what successful trading consists of and what they need to do to achieve it.
Focus on trading the markets, not on making the money
It is not a profound statement to say that making money in the markets is a result of successfully trading them, but it’s worth examining this statement further to see just where most traders with small accounts go wrong.
The problem that plagues most traders with small accounts is that they are probably coming into the markets feeling a “need” to make money because they have put all the disposable income they have into their trading account and they really want to quit their jobs / get rich quick / buy a yacht, etc. The point is that trading the markets with a feeling of “need” results in you focusing most of your brain power on money and profits and much less of it on managing risk and mastering an effective Forex trading strategy like price action trading.
A trader needs to be good at trading a small account before they can move on to a larger account. I would even say that even if you do have a large sum of money to trade with, you should not fund your account with all of it until you have proved to yourself that you can make money on a smaller sum of money. Your focus should not be on turning a small account into lots and lots of money extremely quickly, this is simply not possible if you are managing your risk properly.
Instead, your focus should be on becoming a good trader, not on making money super fast. If you learn to trade the market successfully, the money will follow and attract itself to you in increasing amounts as time goes on. You truly need to focus on the trading not on the money if you want to have a chance at keeping your emotions at bay and obtaining consistent trading success as a result.
I can’t even tell you how many emails I get each week from people asking me questions like ‘Nial, how much money do I need in my account to make $1,000 a month’, or any number of other similar questions that just totally miss the point of what successful trading is all about. I am not criticizing anyone for asking such questions, as most beginners simply do not know what it takes to succeed in the markets and have probably been fed lies and rumors by other Forex websites that promise them the world but deliver little in the way of practical trading strategies and insight.
But, traders need to understand that in order to make consistent money in the markets they must first master a trading strategy like price action, build a trading plan around it, manage risk effectively and with discipline, and not stray from these primary tenants of successful trading, if you can do these things you will see your trading account will grow slow but consistently. If you don’t do these things you will be another member of the large pool of losing Forex traders who refuse to stop thinking about getting rich overnight.
Treat a small trading account as if it were 1 million dollars
If you had a 1 million dollar trading account and had one or two big winners per month, you would be making substantial money, and you would have an impressively consistent track record.
You need to think about your current trading account as if it is a 1 million dollar account, because the principles that lead to consistently successful trading are the same. You are only feeling the emotion and urgency to trade now because your account is small and you want to make a lot of money really fast. But, unfortunately the path to make money in the markets is not paved by risking a lot and trading too much, but rather by taking a slow and calculated approach to your trading and never becoming emotional.
If you had a 1 million trading account, you would have no problem waiting for a pin bar strategy or fakey setup that sticks out like sore thumb on the charts, because you know you only need a few good trades a month to make your money. Granted, it’s easier to not care about the money when you have 1 million dollars, but the point of this article is that in order to make money on your small trading account you need to THINK like you have a big trading account now, because this will deliver you from feeling the urgency and “need” to trade that you probably feel now which is causing you to over-trade, over-leverage, and lose money consistently.
The very reason why most traders lose money is because they simply cannot see the forest for the trees, meaning they get caught up in the temptation to trade every day and over-leverage their accounts because they forget about or are unaware of the bigger picture of trading, which is that slow and steady wins the race, not fast and haphazard. Many traders also get caught up in trying to analyze every piece of news data and all the forex indicators they can get their hands on. Adding such unnecessary variables to your trading analysis only works to keep you deeper in the realm of emotional trading and further away from understanding the bigger picture of what Forex trading success is all about.
A consistent track record can take you places
If your trading account is somewhere in the range of $2,000 or less, we are going to consider this a “very small” trading account and this means your focus absolutely has to be on building a consistent track record and building your confidence as a trader. Then, as you grow and progress as a trader and your track record becomes consistently profitable each month, you can proceed to trade larger sums of money. If you do not have access to more money you can look to an investor, friend, bank or prop firm for trading funds, I even fund some of my successful students from time to time if they have proven themselves to me.
So, if you have a small trading account right now, your primary goals to trade it successfully are to do the following things:
• Forget about the money and instead become “engrossed” in mastering an effective yet simple trading strategy like price action. The more focus you put into the process of trading instead of making money and getting rich, the sooner the money that you desire will find its way into your trading account.
• Build a trading plan off of the price action trading strategies you have mastered. A forex trading plan is essential for succeeding long-term in the markets because it gives you an objective daily guide to follow and will lay out all your entry, exit, and money management strategies, so that you are not just trading on a whim every time you open up your charts.
• Once you build your trading plan you are going to need to track your progress in a forex trading journal so that you can stay disciplined and accountable. If you don’t maintain a trading journal you are probably going to lose your discipline and focus because you will not have a tangible piece of evidence that reflects all your trades.
If you are looking for a backer to fund your trading, they are going to want to see hard evidence that you can trade consistently. This evidence will need to at least contain a legitimate track record that reflects your account history and a comprehensive yet concise Forex trading plan that matches the trades you’ve executed in your trading account history. They are not going to care that much about how much money you have in your account, if you are trading a real-money account and you can provide documents that show your discipline and consistency over a period of 3 months or more, you will not have trouble finding investors or institutions to fund you. So, if nothing else, let this be the motivating force that you need to stop trading haphazardly and get disciplined.
Managing your money on a small trading account
Finally, a few words on managing your money in a small account: it’s no different from how you would manage your money on a larger account, except that you will obviously be trading smaller position sizes per trade. Whatever you do, do not get greedy and trade too large or over-leverage on a smaller account, this is a common emotional trading mistake and it will kill your trading account faster than you think and greatly inhibit your chances of becoming a successful trader.
If you will just slow down and focus on trading like a sniper and not a machine gunner by learning to trade only the most obvious and confluent price action setups, you will be able to trade much more relaxed and care-free, this will help you greatly in your money management. I will not go into my personal Forex money management theory to deeply right now, because I have written about it in other articles, one of which I suggest you read when you finish this one: Don’t measure your profits in percentages or pips. But, basically, you should never risk more money per trade than you are TRULY OK with losing, because you COULD lose on ANY trade, let the be your guiding principle before you enter any trade, because if you really accept this statement you will not ever risk more than you are comfortable with losing.
What to do now
If you are serious about trading your small account successfully and having a chance to take your trading to the next level, you will need to use the insight I have provided in this trading lesson and really try to make a shift in the way you think about trading. I cannot force you to manage your money correctly, master price action trading, or remain disciplined over a long period of time, but if you are truly serious about having a career in trading, you will have to dig deep within yourself and muster up the motivation to do these things and forge the proper trading habits. You can succeed at anything if you want it enough, and Forex trading is no different, so right now you should ask yourself “How much do I want to be a successful Forex trader” and then go back and re-read this article and begin implementing the points discussed here immediately.