Keep it direct and simple.
“I stick with business developer and Co-Founder… it is easier to communicate directly with clients using these titles. I say I am a business owner more than an entrepreneur since I believe one represents intention (entrepreneur) and one is the result of completed action (business owner).”
Benjamin D. Goldman, Co-Founder and Head of Business Development at Agency 2625
Forget ‘what’ and focus on ‘why’.
“As the leader of an advertising agency, I [say] ‘President, Executive Creative Director.’ People want to know who’s on first and who’s in charge—so titles can help with that. But, truth be told, the most interesting thing you can share with a potential customer isn’t your ‘what’, but instead your ‘why’. Lead with why you do what you do and the conversation will really take off.”
Prentice Howe President | Executive Creative Director at Door Number | 3
‘CEO’ is too pretentious.
“I chose ‘Managing Director’… Personally, I feel like a title such as ‘CEO’ belongs to the head of large corporations. It just seemed to be a bit pretentious to call myself a CEO within a boutique agency of 15-30 employees. As Managing Director, I am in the trenches with the rest of our team and a title like ‘CEO’, or ‘Founder’, seems like a title that is too removed from the action of the day-to-day operations. I’d rather have a title that reflects my work ethic, rather than a title that gives the appearance of importance.”
Peter Dawyot, Managing Director of The Publicus Community
Owner encompasses everything.
“Everyone calls themselves an entrepreneur these days and it can have so many meanings. It seems that Owner often ends up being a better description, although it doesn’t encompass all that I do at work.”
Ronjini Joshua, President and Owner of The Silver Telegram
Take size off the table.
“My company has grown quickly from 3 to 11 in a little more than a year. Where once I was comfortable with the title ‘Owner,’ I went to ‘Owner/CEO’ … six months ago… When asked what I do, I say I own a communications agency. That takes size off the table, making it easier for me to compete with larger companies. We’re just as capable, so no need to box ourselves in or get cut out of the hunt initially based on our size.”
Margaret Lisi, CEO of ST!R Marketing
Communicate daily involvement.
“I call myself the ‘Owner’ and ‘President’ of my company. I use these titles to show that I own the business and I am still active in [it]… Using the word ‘founder’ sometimes leads people to believe that the individuals is hands-off and not actively engaged in running the business and securing new contracts.”
Danny Stone, Owner and President of Personify Consulting
“My formal title is Co-Founder, but when people ask me what I do, I normally say ‘I own a Digital Advertising Agency.’ Why? If you have taken a risk of that magnitude in your career, you deserve to say it’s yours.”
Julia Gardner, Co-Founder, Client Services and Strategy, MaaS Appeal
Define your solution.
“I call myself a founder as I feel it appropriately describes my role. I wear a lot of hats running the site and feel this title best encapsulates that concept. When someone asks what I do, I speak about the space ArtPort operates in… Defining it by what it does and the problems it solves is a more apt description in my mind.”
Garrett Houghton, Founder of ArtPort
CEO if you call the shots.
“I am the CEO … because I make the executive decisions regarding my company. Anyone can own a small business and do well with it, but that doesn’t mean they are an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur is about action and intent. An entrepreneur innovates, stretches, and creates a business from a unique vision. For example, a chiropractor who has a local practice and sees patients is a small business owner. A chiropractor who patents a new treatment method or invents a new pain-relieving device and brings it to market is an entrepreneur.”
Kelly Phillips, CEO of Boost Interactive Media
Co-CEO to communicate collaboration.
“We have co-CEO’s at HourlyNerd, and we refer to ourselves as Co-Founder and Co-CEO. Whether we’re speaking to investors, customers or potential employees, we want to signal upfront the deeply collaborative nature of our company, and what could be more collaborative than joint leadership at the top? I refer to myself as someone who runs a ‘small but growing technology company’ – to me the ‘entrepreneur’ moniker is over-used, particularly within big companies for innovation groups.”
Rob Biederman, Co-founder and Co-CEO of HourlyNerd
Forget CXO Titles and ‘Entrepreneur’.
“We went through an entire brainstorming session, weighing of the pros and cons of different job titles. We didn’t want to give ourselves off the shelf CXO titles, and we hated calling ourselves entrepreneurs. Since I have the responsibility for all projects, I acquired the title ‘Partner, Projects’. Similarly, the other partners [are] ‘Partner, Designer’, and ‘Partner, Developer’.”
Brandyn Morelli, Founder at Brandyn.Co – SEO & Digital Marketing
What about you? What do you call yourself? Let us know in the comments section below.
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