I run a small business doing IT work (support, consulting, projects). I’d like to get a couple more customers and start setting the stage to make this small business a large one. I’ve got a web site and I decided to get some business cards, but I don’t know what to use for my title. I want something that will say “I’m the boss” without coming off as pretentious or worse yet, like I’m not an IT guy but a salesman or some huckster that has a fancy title with nothing behind it.
Its fairly standard usage in exactly those circumstances. Everyone knows you’re not pretending to be the CEO of SuperBigCorp, but it clearly informs people that you are the person in charge of the company, and
You are, after all, supposed to TRY to make the business seem larger and more permanent than it is. One of the challenges small businesses face is the appearance of permanence and credibility. You’d be well advised, if you’re serious about this, to invest money in those things that will (at cost effective prices) make your company look like it’s a solid business that’s going to be around for a long time. Good business cards, good brochures, and a slick web site are not just window dressing, they’re important.
If you really don’t feel good with “President” you can always just go without a job title. There’s no rule saying you need one.
My target clientele is small, local businesses in my home town. I live in an affluent but unpretentious suburb north of Boston.
I want ensure that potential clients know that I will be providing the services I’m selling, and I don’t want to be misleading in the size or scope of my business. I’m pretty good at what I do, so my work speaks for itself. I’m not embarressed about operating a small business and I definitely don’t want to hide it. Since I’m targeting other small businesses, I want the message to be - “Hey, I understand the needs of a small business because I’m running one too”.
If the name of the business is ‘Smith IT Consultants’ and you are Winston Smith, then I don’t think you need a title as the ownership is obvious.
If, however, you’re called ‘ABC of IT’ or some such, then I see no problem in giving yourself a title.
I struggle with the US equivalent as to my British Ears ‘President’ sounds so overblown and would never be used for a small to medium business (or at all, to be honest - large companies would use ‘Chief Executive’ or CEO). In the UK, it would be acceptable to title yourself ‘Managing Director’, ‘Proprietor’, ‘Managing Owner’ or even ‘Managing Partner’ (which obviously suggests you have partners, but that you have the last word - typical for a partnership such as lawyers or accountants).
When I started my company, I was pushing for titles used by the Klu Klux Klan. Imperial Wizard has a great ring to it. For some reason, my partners didn’t go for it and I had to settle for something as mundane as Vice President.
“Proprietor” is obsolete & little prissy sounding, at least to me. Neither of those are good attributes for an IT services company.
“Principal” is the modern equivalent.
Also, what **SanVito **said. If the company name makes it obvious that you’re the honcho, you can leave the title off.
Finally, If you are incorporated, you *are * legally the President. So put that on your card. As you’re doing your sales thing, be clear with your customers about who/what your company really is. That’s what I’ve done when I was in that role. Worked well enough.
My daughter-in-law used to work for Microsoft. Dave Cutler was a software wizard who designed VMS for Digital and then moved over to become the head of the NT development team (that my son worked for some years). Well, Cutler wanted a business card that gave his title as “Supreme Commander”. The official business card office refused and he asked my DIL if she could get him cards printed with that title. She called another printer and asked if they could print MS business cards and they said, “Sure” and she got Cutler a batch of cards with his desired title on it.
One of my sister’s college friends is now a high school math teacher. She had business cards printed that, under his name, read, “Molding callow young minds into paragons of mathematical acumen since 1983.” He happily passes them out.
My uncle and his buddies eat at the same table at the same restaurant at least once a week. They got tired of telling other customers every day where the men’s room was, so they had cards printed that read simply, “It’s the second door to the left.”