How to become a successful day trader

Taylor ConwayTaylor Conway ·

Becoming a successful day trader is highly rewarding, but the street has always had one saying, “Over 90% of traders fail.”  Don’t let that number scare you because if you learn some of the key steps and tricks to become a successful day trader, you could be part of that 10%. Generally, a lot of beginning traders will make a lot of mistakes, ultimately discouraging them and causing them to quit.

If you approach the markets with grit and develop as a trader, you could live a comfortable life and potentially generate high returns. Before you even get started trading, look at these steps, which should give you a basic understand of how to become a successful day trader.

How to become a successful day trader

Day trading isn’t for everyone. Depending on your risk tolerance and how much time they have to allocate to learning about day trading. However, if you approach day trading with the right attitude, you could potentially become a successful trader. There are a few key principles to keep in mind before you start your journey to become a successful day trader.

Check your ego and emotions at the door

Before you get started trading, you need to remain humble and not have an ego. If you have an ego, chances are you’ll be overly confident and potentially make the “wrong” trades. If you have an ego, you’ll probably think all of your trades are money and any trade will work. However, when you’re first starting out to trade and learning how to become a successful day trader, you need to remain cautious and try to protect your capital. When you’re overly emotional and have an ego, that pretty much means you’re gambling. You definitely don’t want to do this when you’re learning about trading.

Self assessment

Those who are serious about day trading need to conduct an honest self assessment. For example, if you don’t have a few hours a day to dedicate to day trading, it’s going to be really tough to become successful. You’ll need to constantly keep at it and continuously learn. There’s no cutting corners in day trading. For the most part, you’ll need to be able to:

  • allocate a few hours a day to learn about day trading and review your trades
  • learn about trading on your own, as well as with a successful mentor or group of traders
  • take risks without emotions
  • approach trading with grit. Don’t get stressed or trade on emotions if you have a few losing trades

Day trading requires you to have a different mindset than most other careers and jobs. Unlike most careers, you’ll need to be able to determine whether it’s right for you. That’s why you should conduct a self assessment. Basically, you should ask yourself a few questions before you start, such as:

  • Do I have enough time to allocate to day trading?
  • Can I take risks while leaving my emotions out of it?
  • Am I a self starter and will I be able to learn on my own or dedicate time to learn from successful mentors and traders?
  • Do I have enough grit to try to learn how to become a successful day trader?

You should write out all of the answers to these questions. If you answer “yes” to all of these, you’re on your way to learn how to become a successful day trader.

How much capital to put in

I always get asked this question a lot, “How much money do I actually need to trade stocks?” Well, the answer is, “It depends.” You never want to put your entire life savings on the line and trade with that money. You should only consider trading with an amount you’re comfortable with losing. The common misconception is that you need a lot of money to start day trading. This is true to an extent, but you could start with a smaller amount.

Depending on which brokerage firm you choose, you could deposit the minimum, which could be as little as a few hundred dollars. However, it’ll be a lot harder for you to trade. Additionally, if you really want to day trade, you’re going to have to take into account trading costs. It’s unrealistic to become successful with just a few hundred dollars in your account. Chances are, you’ll need at least $10K to become a successful trader.

If you plan to trade everyday, you’ll need at least $25K, which is due to the SEC pattern day trader rule. According to the SEC, “FINRA rules define a “pattern day trader” as any customer who executes four or more “day trades” within five business days, provided that the number of day trades represents more than six percent of the customer’s total trades in the margin account for that same five business day period.”

If you plan to execute less than four day trades within five business days, then you could get away with having less than $25K. However, that means you’ll need to find “cheap” stocks to trade, such as penny stocks. Don’t be put off by the term penny stocks, because not all of them are shady or frauds. Now, if you don’t have $25K to lay out, you should look into penny stocks and learn about the intricacies behind them.

Figure out your trading style

Every successful trader will tell you that you need to figure out the trading style that best suit your personality. For the most part, when you’re learning how to become a successful day trader, you should follow a systematic approach. Now, a systematic approach involves

A systematic strategy is one where you do not employ discretion. You use a systematic approach where a signal is created to initiate your position. Additionally, you would use signals to exit your position. The initiation of risk and your risk management is handled completely by the system you are using. If you decide you want to use a system that you developed or purchased, make sure you understand all the nuances before you deploy your strategy using real capital.  This could include backtesting using historical data as well as, forward testing in a real-time environment using a demonstration account.

Final Thoughts

The road to becoming a successful day trader is long and bumpy. However, if you’re able to check your emotions at the door, assess your trading, have adequate amount of capital and figure out your style.

#-#-#

Be a Better Stock Trader, Starting Today

Get the expert insights, tips and strategies you need to optimize your trading skills and profiles
START NOW