September 19, 2019

How to Select Your Business Owner Title

As an entrepreneur, you can be as traditional or creative as you'd like to be with your title. So, if titles like President or CEO (Chief Executive Officer) don’t feel right, make a list of titles that better reflect your role. After all, you're the boss, and can select a title that best represents you! As you brainstorm title ideas, here are some components to consider before selecting your business owner title.

5 Tips for Choosing Your Business Owner Title:

1. First, Think About Your Area of Expertise

Did you know that there are 42 million Americans working as independent professionals, contractors, consultants, freelancers, and side giggers? If you’re a successful solopreneur, your title should be broad and encompass the many hats you wear. While running a sole proprietorship, you can always change your title later as your business grows and evolves. On the other hand, if you’re planning to build a team that may include a Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Financial Officer, you should take this into account when choosing your title. It might make sense to give yourself a title that more accurately reflects your area of expertise.

2. Reflect on Your Employee Hierarchy — Or Lack Thereof

Many companies use titles to denote employee hierarchy. For example, C-level employees often rank highest within a business structure. They are followed by the managing partners, 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 currently have a team or plan to build one later, make sure the titles you choose reflect the pecking order you want (or don’t want) within your company. Anyone involved in running the business or contributing to its success should have an idea of what their role is. Although titles aren't necessary, they can help employees understand their job's purpose.

3. Contemplate Your Industry and Customer Base

Certain industries lend themselves better to creative titles than others. For example, if you run a tech startup, you might have the title “Chief Disruptor.” In comparison, you probably won't choose this title 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 a popular advertising method, customers that don’t understand what you do because of your title might not recommend your business. Along with your company name, your business titles should perfectly reflect what you offer to clients.

4. Think About the First Impression

It might be fun to call yourself something like “Head Honcho” or “The King,” but not everyone will get the joke. If your title makes you seem like an amateur or that you take yourself too seriously, you may alienate potential employees and customers. Ultimately, it’s okay to get creative with your title. Just remember that at the end of the day, your title shouldn’t deter people from doing business with you.

5. Consider Your Comfort Level

While it can be helpful to ask for opinions from close friends, trusted advisors, and your board of directors 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 give yourself the title of CEO doesn’t mean that’s your best choice. If a traditional job title feels wrong, pick something that’s a better fit. Ultimately, your title should reflect your role in the company as well as your goals as a small business owner.

Conclusion: Take Your Time When Choosing the Best Business Owner Title for You

Finally, don’t complicate it. Choosing your title allows you to communicate your status and company culture to competitors and potential customers. Still, the decision shouldn’t overshadow other, more important business endeavors like improving your operation's efficiency 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. Plus, you can always change your title later as your business and day to day tasks evolve. Editor’s Note: This post was updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness in September 2019.