Whether you find yourself staring blankly at a business card template, filling out your business social media profile, or just trying to explain it to your mom, the business world has changed.
A lot. And quickly.
What it means to be a business owner today has certainly morphed more rapidly than our language. So it is no wonder that the words at our disposal for describing our business-owning selves can feel stiff, at best ... and archaic, at worst.
So here we are finding the owners of struggling Etsy-sellers billing themselves as the CEO, Founder, or President of their 6 month-old businesses. And I get why.
These "titles" are perceived to lend an air of prestige to their endeavours. We willingly suspend the understanding that calling oneself a CEO (Chief Executive Officer) depends upon there being many other officers and employees in the company. (It's CEO AT not CEO OF).
I suppose that the point is that we want to feel important. But in the end it all comes off as rather silly. What, after all, is wrong with just calling one's self the owner of a small business? As a small business-owner myself, I know exactly how impressive that is.
Perhaps the "mini-CEOs" don't think the rest of the world will take them seriously. Perhaps "business owner" doesn't live up to their dreams for their business. Fair enough.
But CEO communicates qualities that a small business owner may well not intend. Like cold, detached, big, & without personality.
So what other options does the business owner have?
The popular Solopreneur (2010) found its way into the modern lexicon as a 21st century alternative to freelancer (originating in 1820 with medieval mercenaries and coming to denote journalists by 1882).
But the term originates as a way to distinguish those doing everything by themselves from those who have employees. So while not incorrect, it's a terribly lonely thing to call one's self. Especially in an era of growing collaboration between online business owners.
Instapreneur (1990s) was coined to separate makers and sellers that create a storefront overnight via the miracles of eBay, then Etsy and Amazon. Killer opportunities, but hardly a flattering term for one's endeavors.
Entrepreneur (1852)? Not really. Today, that word refers specifically to someone who uses money (not ideas) to start a business.
If we go further back into linguistic time, we have little but "storekeep" (1601) or "keeper" (mid 15th century) as options.
So while the businesses we are creating out of thin air, creative brains and the sweat pouring out of our typing fingertips is well within the parameters of what we call the "American Entrepreneurial Spirit," it still doesn't suit when it comes to naming ourselves.
And yet, that is exactly the challenge, responsibility and freedom before us.
To name ourselves. To knight ourselves. To call ourselves whatever the hell we want to.
So let's head back to the cocktail party where someone new asks you what you DO. Do you say I am "CEO at Katie's Cupcakes?"
What if you could say "I make the blow-your-mind cupcakes you're going to want at your kid's next party?"
Because you CAN say that. It is more honest AND will bring your more business than a self-titled CEO moniker.
You can say whatever you want, but let it be something that BUILDS confidence in your business. Not something you think other people want to hear or makes you look important.
As the Supreme Hip-Shaker at Superhooper,org, I create hula hoops for grownups and remind you that you have permission to play.
As the Moonshine Marketeer, I distill the noise of modern marketing to Social Media Mixology - the same marketing my grandfather did - just in a new venue.
What does YOUR name and TITLE look and sound like? I wanna hear it!
Speak Human Win The Internet
Distill the ocean of social media into high-octane gulps of fun for your small business.
So you can be human online. Every day.