What to Call Yourself as a Business Owner

Owner, President, Founder, CEO?  What the heck do you call yourself as the business owner?  What is your title?  Well here are some ideas as to what you may want your title to be, according to the type of business you have and what your goals are.

If it helps anyone, I refer to myself as “Founder & CEO” of my business, and “Serial Entrepreneur” as my general title.  To me, that means I am creative, yet actively managing my business, and I want to grow big and eventually exit.  So committed, yet in growth mode.

The Founder Title

Good for: Innovators of High Growth Companies & Products

The title founder is usually used by innovators of products and high growth start-ups.  At least that’s what I’ve seen.  In other’s minds, I believe it symbolizes someone who is creative, and was behind the original innovation of a disruptive concept.  It also depends on what you want others to think when they see your title, Founders are known to be a little on the awkward and crazy side.  This isn’t always a bad thing, after all..you have to be a little crazy to take that kind of risk.

The CEO Title

Good for: Visionaries who manage their company

Who doesn’t want the title of a CEO?  A stand alone CEO title is usually only used in corporations, or by founders who are building an executive team.  When you combine the title of CEO with the Founder title, it also symbolizes something very important: a creative founder who has business sense that is committed to his/her business.  Almost every VC or investor I’ve talked to prefers founders who are committed, and involved, in the day to day management of their business.  It also says you’re thinking of having executives and building a “real management team”.  That’s important in a high growth start-up.

The President Title

Good for: Owner of an LLC or service based company

The title of president is also widely used by Entrepreneurs and business owners.  The president title may be used more in LLC’s, where the founders may become silent, and assume the title of  “managing partner” or “managing member”.  The president title then is one that can be delegated, usually to the first employee of the company…who may also have a substantial number of shares in the business.  It is more widely used in service oriented companies.

The Owner Title  

Good for: Lifestyle Business Owners and Sole Proprietors

Many business owners and Entrepreneurs will naturally default to the owner title.  Because it’s simple: you own the business.  I personally don’t prefer the owner title, unless you are the sole owner (and plan to remain as such) to your business.  To me it says “lifestyle business”.  It’s important to note though, even if you don’t have a team…it’s not a good idea to carry this title with investors because you will no longer be the sole owner even if all you do is raise money.  It’s even more important to note, investors don’t want to see someone who retains 100% of their company.  They want to see a solid management team, and you will need to give up equity for a good team…unless you raise money first, which is unlikely.

The Managing Partner Title

Good for: VC’s, Holding Companies, Consultants

Now we’re starting to get a little more confusing.  I’m not even that familiar with this title, and have only seen it used on rare occasions by VC’s or consultants.  Usually the managing partner title is a business title used by investors or strategic partners that may have an equity or stock share in a company, that are also active managers of the overall operations of the business.  (But I could be wrong!).  Managing partners also can be “for hire”, I’ve seen them make around $1,000-$5,000 per day.  One of my board advisors also carries this title for his own holding company.

The Entrepreneur Title

Good for: Serial Entrepreneurs, Freelancers

I like this title, I know you guys probably think I’m crazy for listing this (hey, I am a founder ;) ).  To me, it says “I have a track record of running businesses because I love it”.  Alot of times, I see this title used in combination with their regular title.  It signals a certain mindset, as Entrepreneurs relate to one another.  An Entrepreneur by my definition, is someone who spots an opportunity…and works to make it happen.  Sees it through till the end.

Un-ordinary Titles

Ha ha…leave it to business owners and Entrepreneurs to challenge the status quo.  I’m seeing new names come up, like chief brand officer (CBO), chief happiness officer (CHO), chief vision officer (CVO).  Whether or not you want to use these is really us to you.

At the end of the day…a title is just title.  That is all.  No one really cares as long as there is a clear ownership path to follow.  Just don’t make it so confusing when I an outside partner or another CEO like myself is trying to contact you…I can’t even figure out who I need to contact :) .

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