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Please don’t call yourself a CEO

I have been tidying up my Linkedin profile recently as it has been neglected for many months. There is a handy little option on Linkedin, well, on most social sites, it is called ‘People you may know’. The tech genius’ at Linkedin have some savvy algorthym which picks up who you might know and gives you a handy list. Coming back to the point, I was strolling through the suggested contacts, some of which were accurate, some of which were not and I spotted a few startup business directors onthere with the title of Chief Executive Officer. Wow, so many Chief Executive Officers were on there I should have been over-the-moon to be mixing in such powerful circles, sadly, it was not so.

In the business world today it seems Managing Director, Director are out and we now have CEO instead. The grumbling I have is that in order to be a Chief Executive, you must by the very nature of the title have other Executive Officers, otherwise, why do you need to have a Chief? If you are a startup business with more than one director and significant investment, then you can call yourself a CEO.

Listen to this one (details changed so I don’t name and shame their company)….

‘Í am the CEO of Joe Bloggs Windows Ltd’

What this guy didn’t say is that this is a one person business. If you are interested in a great job title, God help you. Who cares about your job title? Your customers don’t, in fact if you use a grand title and your are small business, your customers will see through it and believe your are either on a ego trip or very insecure. Customers, for the most part, are not stupid.

CEO implies that your business is significant. You’ll look like an idiot, if you present your business card and then they realiseits just 3 people or 10 people or just you. If you are starting out, here are some great titles to use….

These title suggestions assume you are an ordinary startup business that hasnt secured millions of pounds of startup capital or you don’t intend to hire 50 people in the next 3 weeks.

  • Retail Store – Store Owner / Propreitor
  • Business to Business – Director / Add field infront if there are multiple Directors (e.g. Finance Director, Sales Director etc)
  • Business to Consumer – Customers like to feel they are buying from an established company, so it can be an advantage to not have a grand title.
Not being CEO is good….
Sometimes, it’s good to not look like you are the big cheese in your business, particularly if you are dealing with customers directly. In some circumstances you want that distance so that you can ‘check with whether we can do that for you’ .Its a negotiating tactic that can help in the early days.  If you are a new business it can be hard for an owner operator in negotiations because you are keen to win as much business as you can and long to make every customer happy. Being the organ grinder in negotiating makes it harder to create wiggle room and more tricky to resolvesitautions where a customer isdisatisfied. Sometimes, not being a CEO can help.

Just a thought….

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