There are a lot of big decisions to make if you start your own business. But there’s one decision that most people don’t really think about until it comes up – what will you call yourself?

It may be strange to think about, but every business owner with a fancy-sounding title just gave that title to themselves at some point.

The good news is, the choice is entirely up to you. The bad news is that there are actually quite a lot of options out there. And, while most of them mean similar things, some of them have stronger implications than others.

So, choosing the right one will depend entirely on your daily role in your small business and what kind of vibe you’d like to give off. 

We can’t tell you which title to choose, but we can give you a comprehensive list of all the titles and how they’re generally thought about.

Specifically, we’ll be talking about:

  • Owner
  • CEO
  • Chief (title)
  • Director (creative director, director of operations, technical director)
  • Founder
  • Chairperson
  • President
  • GM (General Manager)
  • Managing Title (Managing Director, Managing Partner, Managing Member)
  • Principal
  • Proprietor

We’ll take a closer look at each of these titles, what they imply about your daily job, and the kind of vibe they give off. 


Fairly self-explanatory. The title lets everybody know that you own the business. 

It doesn’t necessarily let people know that you have an active role in the business’ operations. But, for small businesses, it’s usually assumed that you have a hands-on role. 

Some people decide to call themselves “Owner / (Another title)” if they want people to know they’re not just the owner. 

Chief (title)

Titles like CEO (Chief Executive Officer), Chief Marketing Officer, or Chief Financial Director will let people know that you’re the highest-ranking member of that particular area. 

It says you have staff beneath you, and your job is to manage those people, delegating tasks and making final decisions. 

A board of directors sometimes chooses CEOs, so giving yourself this title might make some people assume you’re not the business owner, if that matters to you. 

For a small business owner or sole trader, Chief titles might give off a strange impression. Obviously, you’re in charge of everything, so it’s not technically wrong, but a person in charge of a handful of staff calling themself a CEO could sound a bit silly. 


Like the owner, this title gets the message across straight away – you started this business. It’s unique in the sense that nobody else can ever claim the title, even if you were to step down from an active role, or sell the business. 

Also, like the owner, it doesn’t tell people what your daily responsibilities are, so you might want to include something else in the title if you still have an active role in running your business. 


A Chairperson is usually an elected position in charge of a limited company with more than one branch, but it can be used for business owners too. Although, it’s not usually used for sole traders. 

The term implies that you take on a more administrative role, organising meetings with higher-level executives, being a liaison between senior branch management and business owners. 

Again, because a Chairperson is usually elected, people might assume that you’re not the business owner. 


President gives off a very particular vibe. You’re an important person with places to be and things to do. It usually implies that you’re in charge of a large number of people and departments so, again, might sound a bit much if you’re a sole trader. 

In reality, it means pretty much the same as “Managing Director” or “CEO”, but it sounds a bit more glamorous. 

GM (General Manager)

General manager usually implies you have a hands-on role in managing your business, playing an equal part in operations and administration. 

It sounds a little less fancy than “Managing Director” or “CEO”, so it’s maybe more appropriate for smaller businesses. 

Although, the “General Manager” title might make outsiders assume that you were brought in as an outside hire rather than the actual owner. 

Managing (Title)

Managing titles are commonly used because the “managing” part lets people know you take an active role. 

Managing Director

Very similar to a CEO. This title says you’re responsible for big picture stuff, rather than the practical side of things. 

Generally speaking, Managing Directors are in charge of smaller companies than CEOs.

The MD is a similar role to that of the CEO.

Managing Member

If your business is a limited company, then you’re technically a “member” instead of an “owner”. 

If you call yourself a Managing Member, it means you’re an owner who takes responsibility for the business operations. 

Managing Partner

Similar to Managing Member, Managing Partner means you’ve set up a limited company with one or more other partners. Still, you take a more active role in managing the business compared to other partners. 


Some business owners might like the sound of Principal instead of owner. 

It’s not as common as some of the other choices but has a feeling of authority about it. 


This title isn’t used as much these days. But it means you’re legally and financially in charge of the business. 

If it’s ever used, it’s usually in retail or hospitality sectors. 

Starting your business on the right track

When you’re running your own business, it’s important to keep your personal and business finances separate, and to keep organised financial records. The Countingup business current account makes it easy to manage all your financial data in one simple app.  

It comes with free built-in accounting software that automates the time-consuming aspects of bookkeeping. You’ll receive real-time insights into your cash flow, profit and loss reports, tax estimates, and the ability to create invoices in seconds. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward. Find out more here.