If you look at penny stocks and think “this sounds too good to be true,” you’re certainly not alone.

Here’s the truth: just like any other type of trade, penny stocks come with their inherent risks. That said, the rewards can be great for those who are patient, open-minded and know what to look for.

Penny stocks represent a totally legitimate means of trading as demonstrated by endless success stories out there; however, many naysayers dismiss such stocks due to a variety of pitfalls, distractions and missteps.

But what sort of missteps are we talking about? For starters, keep our quick five-point checklist in the back of your mind to make sure you’re getting off on the right foot when it comes to your penny stock ambitions.

Be Wary of Hype

You can look at a list of the top penny stocks to watch and hope that you’ll land on the next big tech start-up, but let’s be real: you’re dealing with penny stocks, not Apple stock.

While there’s tons of hype out there that builds the notion that you might become a millionaire overnight, realistic expectations will certainly take you further than blind hope and hype. Anything that seems too good to be true probably is: by being grounded from the word “go,” you enter the world of penny stocks with realistic expectations.

Be Patient

Finding penny stocks before they spike can often feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Sticking to principles of buying low and selling high is a solid starting point, knowing exactly what to do in any given situation with a trade often feels like a game of trial and error. Over time you can better learn how to react in seemingly make-or-break situations: just as is the case with any other sort of skill, practice makes perfect

Set Your Limits

On a related note, setting your limit in terms of how much money you’re spending on stocks will ultimately keep you from going in the red. Likewise, sticking to a well-defined budget can influence your trading behavior accordingly and make decisions such as selling short easier for you. It may be tempting to splash cash in hopes of scoring a big payoff, but again, hype is often perilous to new traders.

Document Your Trades

This tip may seem a bit old-school, but keeping a diary of your traders is a great idea for understanding how you’re performing by the numbers. By documenting this information yourself, you have a crystal clear idea of what your profits or losses look like and what you can do to improve accordingly. Whether through pen and paper or a Google Doc, tracking your trades is a must for beginners.

Keep Learning

Although there’s certainly plenty of knowledge out there to absorb regarding the world of penny stocks, you need to turn yourself into a lifelong learner on the subject if you truly want to improve. Whether through bite-sized blog posts or a dedicated course, knowing the latest tips and trends will keep your mind in the right place.

Again, penny stocks can result in huge returns for savvy traders who know how to spend their time and avoid common mistakes. By following this checklist, you can move forward within your trading career with peace of mind and understand that good things do come for those who play the waiting game.

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