Stop Calling Yourself a CEO

You run a small business. You founded* a small business. You might be in college. Maybe you’re a 57-year-old wedding DJ, p.k.a. Sir Geriatricz. It doesn’t matter.

Just stop calling yourself a CEO.

Unless you’re governing Indians you are the “Chief” of nothing. You just know a little more than others. Or maybe you don’t. (hint: this is called “domain expertise”)

So call yourself the founder, or owner, or whatever. Tell people you “Run a little business that does _.” Just don’t say you’re a CEO.

Nothing screams amateur like glossy business cards and a 2-man team and ‘CEO’ inscribed bolder and bigger than your name.

Being CEO is a pipe dream, not a right of passage for your $100 C-Corp filing.

Focus on sales.

Sales are oxygen with which you grow and hire employees (Indians). Then you’ll be a Chief. Then you can call yourself a CEO.

But for now, just stop.


  1. fsinsd October 9, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    Couldn’t have said this better, Ryan. This is one of my pet peeves. When I see “CEO” as someone’s title when they are a company of 1, it tells me I can’t trust them. They have an overinflated opinion of themselves AND is says to me they lack authenticity.

    1. Ryan Kulp October 10, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      Agree 100%. Thanks for reading!

  2. John Warburton January 29, 2016 at 5:08 am

    Oh my word. Well said. You know what’s worse and I have seen this a lot – ‘Global CEO’

  3. Andrew Cashion January 28, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    This was a refreshing read. I’m hoping I’m a smart enough monkey that what I build may at some point make me 5 bucks. Such a large amount of snobbery is also a motivating factor for me.


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