I’m often asked, how will I know when a trading system is ready to go live? After much testing and verification the performance report may look great. Then several months of simulated trading looks good too. However, I often hear, "But I still don't think that it's ready".
This feeling is something all traders feel. I feel it too. The fact is, you never know if a system will work or not. As a trader you have to learn to work and make decisions in an environment of uncertainty.
Think about that.
You're never going to know for sure. Building a trading model is not like building a software program to operate a bank, or an engineering project to build a home. Those are activity constraints that are 100% understood, validated, and documented. The end result is predictable.
However, with trading you're dealing with uncertainty. This is very different and it's what most people experience. In short, you have to always take a leap into the unknown. Most people find that very difficult to do. Thus, they can never be good traders.
I know that I tend to have a perfectionist mindset. Thus, it's challenging to accept something that's not perfect such as your trading models. No trading models are ever going to be 100%! This thinking becomes a roadblock or excuse for not pushing forward. I know people who have been building systems for over a year or more yet, don't trade live, and it's a mistake, in my opinion.
Trade Live Now!
When it comes to getting started in system trading, I always tell new system traders this:
It's essential to bring a trading model to the live market sooner rather than later.
You may have even heard me say this before. Again, my advice would be to start trading one of your better strategies on a small starter account as soon as possible.
Doing this will provide you with valuable experience. For example, you'll feel the emotions of live trading. You'll get accustomed to your platform, strategy, and yourself when your money is at risk. As a result, you build the required confidence to grow as a trader. The only way to attain confidence is to "do". Reading about trading or building strategies that have nice backtest is fantasy. You need to move into the realm of reality.
Your first system does not need to be perfect, far from it. Your first system is not going to be perfect or even ideal. You may lose money. That's OK. You have a small account, and losing money is part of this game. Make mistakes now with a single system, trading a single contract on a small account.
Think of it this way, when you first begin any new skill, your first attempts are not great. That's OK. Learn and improve over time. You'll need to iterate over the process to gain experience and confidence.
Fear Is Holding You Back
Don't get hung up on what system to trade. Don't look for a perfect system.
Looking for an ideal strategy is an excuse to avoid hard work of facing your fear.
Let me say that again. Not trading live is often based on fear. Fear of being wrong. Fear of losing money. Fear of looking stupid.
Just pick one decent strategy and get going. The experience of live trading will be invaluable. In fact, it's the only way to move forward.
If you want to play baseball, you have to put in the time going up to the plate and swinging at pitches during a live game. Even if you strike out, it's a valuable experience. You can't be an airplane pilot by only flying in a flight simulator. You need real time in the sky. You can't be a surgeon by only reading books. You need to work with real people.
Likewise, you can't just think your way to being a better trader. You have to experience it. That means putting money on the line.
Now, get out there and trade live.