Fred Wilson, of AVC.com, has a good quick post about the start up curve. Trading is entrepreneurship without customers or employees.
I really like this visual because if you turn your head enough it looks like a face hitting the wall. Not sure if that was intentional but that is how I would best describe what trading is like when you are new and/or struggling.
There are subtle but important difference. Yes there are no clients or employees but that means that you have to rely on your own feedback mechanisms. Money is not as effective as one would think.
Initiation- Every trader comes in thinking they will make money, in fact if they have never traded, they probably have convinced themselves fully. They spend time looking for all the answers in charts but it is in the process. It seems like easy money. It is not easy but it is probably the best way to make money. The best of anything takes more work.
Wearing off of novelty– This is a critical time for any trader. This is where the hole gets deeper or ideally the trader stops and starts to work more efficient. Process and not charts. This is the motivation to understand what trading really is and who they really are.
Trough of sorrow- This is also a critical point. Now you have done some work but it has not paid off yet. Do you keep working? Do you get some help? Can you continue to improve?
Crash of ineptitude- You are starting to gain some experience and confidence. But you have a bad day and lose too much. Back to the drawing table.
Wiggles of false hope- This is where you understand what not to do so you are floating along again. The problem is you are only starting to understand what to do. You have corrected the big mistakes and now start down the path of correcting the small ones.
The promise land- Now you understand what not to do and what to do. Now it is up to you to actually do it. You are in the best position of your trading career.
Acquisition of liquidity- Now you are a self sustaining trader. You have the ability to make x amount of dollars to survive. This is what you have to lean on now. This is when trading begins to get real. You are methodically improving.
Upside of buyer- Not only do you understand what not to do and what to do, you always do it. Now the sky is the limit. You control your destiny.
The difference between trading and a start up is you are not looking to be acquired. You have to do this day in and day out, make a career. This does not stop but the process and progressions become second nature and you are seeing positive results. This is not the time to relax but the time to put the foot on the gas pedal. This is true about all of the stages except the first one.
Trading is also different in that any day you can put yourself back into one of the stages. That is why it is important to never forget that the purpose is to make money. As you gain experience you will spend less time in the early stages. The early stages will start to feel like touching a hot stove. You will recognized the situations more quickly and have the strength to make a change immediately.
This post originally appeared in March 2012.
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