How to Select Your Business Owner Title
As business owner, you have countless options that allow you to be as specific or vague, traditional or creative as you wish with your title. So, if the frequently used President or CEO/Chief Executive Officer titles don’t fit your personality or business goals, start making a list of potential titles that better reflect your vision for your role.
As you brainstorm, here are some components to consider before selecting your business owner title.
5 Tips for Choosing Your Business Owner Title:
1. Your Area of Expertise
According to the 2018 MBO Partners State of Independence in America report, 42 million Americans work as independent professionals, contractors, consultants, freelancers, side giggers, and more. If you’re one of the many solopreneurs who’ve created a successful business of one, your title might be something broad and all-inclusive to reflect the many hats you wear. On the other hand, if you’re planning to build a team of specialized professionals that may include a Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Financial Officer, for example, it might make sense to give yourself a title that more accurately reflects your area of expertise.
2. Your Employee Hierarchy — Or Lack Thereof
Many companies use titles to denote employee hierarchy. For example, C-level employees often rank highest within the organization, followed by the managing directors, managers, associates, and so on. Others prefer a flat structure in which titles have no bearing on each employee’s status within the company. Whether you have a team now or plan to build one down the road, make sure the titles you choose for yourself and your employees reflect the pecking order you want (or don’t want) within your organization.
3. Your Industry and Customer Base
Certain industries lend themselves better to creative titles than others. For example, if you run a tech startup, you’re more likely to have the title “Chief Disruptor” than if you own an accounting firm. Similarly, your customer base is usually a good indication of how far you should stray from traditional business titles. Since word-of-mouth is often your best method of advertising when you own a small business, customers that don’t understand what you do or don’t take you seriously because of your title might not do you the favor of sending you additional business.
4. Your First Impression
It might be fun to shake things up and call yourself something like “Head Honcho” or “The King,” but not everyone will get the joke. If your title makes you appear like you’re not serious about your work — or you take yourself too seriously as a boss — you run the risk of alienating potential employees and customers.
Ultimately, it’s okay to get creative with your title. Just remember that at the end of the day, you’re running a business, and your title shouldn’t keep people from doing business with you.
5. Your Comfort Level
While it can be helpful to ask for opinions from close friends, trusted advisors, and your board of directors (if you have them) when deciding on your business title, make sure whatever you choose is something you’d be comfortable putting on a business card or saying out loud when you introduce yourself at a networking event. Just because everyone thinks you should call yourself CEO doesn’t mean that’s your best choice. If a job title feels wrong or conveys an image that makes you uncomfortable, pick something that’s a better fit. Ultimately, your title should reflect your role in the company as well as your personality as a small business owner.
Finally, don’t overcomplicate it. Although choosing your title gives you the opportunity to communicate your status and company culture to competitors and potential customers, the decision shouldn’t overshadow other, more important business endeavors like developing operational efficiencies and delivering exceptional customer service. Start by choosing a title that you’re comfortable with and that you believe best reflects your role as business owner. You always have the flexibility to change it later as your business and day to day responsibilities evolve.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.