What Should Be Your Title? Founder, Co-Founder, or CEO?

What Should Be Your Title as an Entrepreneur? Founder, cofounder or CEO?

When you are an entrepreneur, coming up with the right title is a very important decision to make. Not only for personal branding but also for how investors, partners, and employees perceive you. Choosing the title is crucial since it can reflect on your position, responsibilities and what stage of startup are you at. Here’s a guide to help you decide between the titles Founder, Co-Founder, and CEO.

1. Founder

The inception of a company is often associated with a Founder who was behind the company’s idea origination and typically the one who set the foundation for the company. Startup founders often have a deep understanding of the industry, the problem they are trying to solve, and a vision for the company. But, as the company grows, a Founder may need to move into a new role such as CEO to allow the company to effectively scale. 

When to Use It:

  • You came up with the business idea alone.
  • If you started the company by yourself without any assistance from others or partners.
  • You want to emphasize that it was you who created and formed the company.

Pros:

  • States clearly what role you played in establishing it
  • Universally known and appreciated
  • Highlights your entrepreneurial spirit and initiative.

Cons:

  • May not correspond to your operational duties as the business grows.
  • Usually combined with other titles, such as Founder & CEO, so that people understand better who/what they really are

Example:

John Doe, Founder of XYZ Innovations

2. Co-Founder

In contrast, co-founders are those who share the foundational responsibilities and decision-making authority with other partners. A collaborative approach may bring in different perspectives and a mix of skills that might complement each other, but it will also require effective communication, conflict resolution, and a clear division of responsibilities. 

When to Use It:

  • You began your company with one or more partners.
  • You wish to attribute collective effort toward constructing this venture.
  • If you believe that teamwork or shared vision among co-founders should be accentuated as well.

Pros:

  • Indicates that starting up was a collaborative move.
  • Accepted and respected within the entrepreneurial community.
  • Positions you as part of a team effort to create the company.

Cons:

  • Similar to “Founder,” it may not fully convey your current operational role.
  • Oftentimes used with another title for clarification (e.g., Co-Founder & CTO).

Example:

John Smith, Co-Founder of ABC Solutions

3. Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Typically, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is the most senior executive in charge of managing the company’s overall strategic plan, operations, and performance. Many times the CEO was a Founder or Co-Founder, but this role evolves as the company evolves, requiring different leadership capabilities and decision-making. 

When to Use It:

  • You are responsible for the overall management and strategic direction of the company.
  • The company has grown to a stage where formal executive titles are necessary.
  • You want to convey authority and leadership within the organization and to external stakeholders.

Pros:

  • Universally recognized and respected.
  • Clearly defines your role as the head of the company.
  • Well-suited for engaging with investors, partners, and other high-level stakeholders.

Cons:

  • May overshadow the entrepreneurial aspects of your role.
  • Presumes a readiness for the operational and leadership obligations of a CEO.

Example:

  • Mary Johnson, CEO of 123 Enterprises

Title Combinations

In many instances, it is not unusual for entrepreneurs to use more than one title to more accurately and adequately describe their role and job responsibilities. This approach can help enhance transparency, and avoid ambiguity or misunderstanding regarding your position within the company.

Examples:

  1. Founder & CEO
  2. Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
  3. Founder & Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Conclusion

Your title should reflect your role, responsibilities, and the stage your startup is at. By using titles, it makes it easier for an outsider to know how to contact your company. Overall, titles allow others to quickly make sense of who you are. Here is a quick summary to facilitate your decision-making:

Founder: This is ideal if you started the business on your own and would like to emphasize this fact.

Co-Founder: This is best if you started the business with other partners and wish to highlight that it was not just an individual effort.

CEO: This is appropriate if you are involved in the strategic direction of the company as well as its overall management.

Remember that with the growth of your organization, there will be changes in the role over time and hence the title. Therefore, you need a title that accurately represents where you are now and where you plan to be in the future. 

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By Harsha Nair

Harsha, a seasoned SEO Analyst, delves into tech advancements and industry trends, offering insights from software development to effective cofounding strategies.

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