Forget vague titles.
“I am the CEO … however, on my website, business cards, email signature, etc. my title is Personal Branding Consultant. When someone asks me what I do or who I am my reply is “a Personal Branding Consultant”. If I’m delivering my elevator pitch I’m wasting time and diverting focus away from my business and services by introducing myself as a founder, CEO, or other vague title of business ownership.”
Talaya Waller, Personal Branding Consultant of Talaya Waller, LLC
Share what you do.
“This is always a topic in my office, especially for branding, business cards and online bios. I consider myself an entrepreneur, but I’ve never used the term to describe myself. All of my bios state Founder and Managing Director, however when introducing myself I always say owner or PR Manager. I think it sums up what I do better.”
Hayley Smith, Founder and Managing Director of Boxed Out PR
Focus on who you help.
“I call myself insurance broker instead of founder, CEO or President. I find it makes my job easier when it comes down to making important decisions… [When] asked “What [do you do?]” I tell them who I can help and what I do, instead of calling myself a owner or entrepreneur. This [helps] them remember who I am and what I do instead of just being a small business owner.”
Liam Dai, Insurance Broker at RiskBlock
Break the ice, instead.
“When someone asks me what I do, I always reply with ‘I’m the Chief Espresso Officer at my company’. I find it much better than saying CEO, owner or Managing Director. My answer sparks a universal laugh; it’s the perfect ice breaker. ‘What do you mean? You make the coffee?’ I simply explain that since I’m the founder, I’m the first one to go in our office and the last one to leave thus the need for incremental amounts of espresso to get me going. Plus I get to make the morning espresso for everyone (a team of 5) to welcome them to work (way better than Starbucks Frappuccinos)…”
Isidoros Yfantopoulos, Chief Espresso Officer and CEO of Tannery London
Title should match duties.
“I go with the title Founder. I’ve worked at various early-stage startups, and your title should match your day-to-day activities, not just what sounds ‘cool.’ … Each position has specific duties, and you should select the one that most closely matches your duties… I always recommend adding Founder or Co-Founder if you founded the company; when you start a business, you should take credit for that initial bootstrapping phase.”
Joseph Hirschhorn Howard, Founder of WordPress Buffs
CEO is overused.
“I’m always puzzled by SMB entrepreneurs that derive their sense of self-worth from their title. People love to call themselves CEO’s, but CEO’s of what? If you’re a CEO you ought to have an executive team of leaders who each govern a section of the business and a set of teams. If someone’s the CEO of a company with less than 30 staff, I can’t help but feel that they’re being disingenuous…”
Orun Bhuiyan, Co-founder and Marketing Technologist of SEOcial
Start with ‘Owner’.
“I am excited to say I am an entrepreneur, but yet I did not necessarily want to flaunt it. So, I came up with Owner & Event Planner/PR Specialist. When someone asks me what I do, I typically say I am the owner…”
Courtney Lutkus, Owner & Event Planner/PR Specialist of Simply Radiant Events
Just say who runs the show.
“I believe deeply that fighting title inflation increases credibility by showing a disdain for pomp and a focus on content. I’m CEO for the reason that a business needs an officer (as an LLC), but when people ask me what I do, I just say that ‘I run the show.’ Calling oneself “an entrepreneur” reveals an attachment to status that is an immediate turn-off …”
Erik Fogg, CEO of Something to Consider
Don’t be vague.
“I tell people who I am, and what I do. This allows people to [learn] that I’m an entrepreneur and precisely what my job is. For me, I don’t want to be vague about my job description. I want you do know what I do, so in the future when you need a Publicist and Brand Architect you think of me and my company.”
Octavia McClain, Owner and Sr. Publicist of The PR House
‘Entrepreneur’ is too trendy.
“When I first started Illustria, I used the title of Founder because it carries a lot of weight and heart. I only started using Founder & CEO after we were over 20 people and I had a management team who ran day-to-day. It’s hard to take it seriously if someone calls him or herself a CEO of a 2 person company—they’d be better off saying owner. When I meet people socially (not professionally), I say that I work in design. Announcing yourself as an “entrepreneur” has become too trendy with the wantrepreneur set.”
Katherine Long Founder & CEO IIllustria
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