When to Call Yourself a CEO

I guess most people are dreaming of becoming a CEO someday owning a big company with lots of employees. But somehow that dream seems to be impossible specially in this kind of competitive business environment where it seems that every kind of product imaginable are already existing. And if you want to compete with other corporate giants, well it’s like you will be squashed like an insect when they stepped on you. But in this modern internet age, many became instant millionaires just having a business (or a very unique idea) and used their talents for amassing millions of dollars in the internet. Facebook and Google are best examples of those companies. The founders of those companies have the right to call themselves CEO and it’s because they have lots of employees and billion dollar companies.

But when I stumbled across a forum, I then realized that many people have a negative reaction to those small businesses or emerging entrepreneurs that call themselves CEO. One poster started the question because he sees tons of  people toss around the title CEO:

What make a person qualified to use the title.

Reason I ask is, I’ve never used it. I’ve owned my own corp’s and I have had in the past over 3-5 million in recievables per month with good solid margins and 35 people on staff. The best business card I ever used were the ones with the title “last and final say so”. The best title I ever encounter was “big kahuna” (sp?) and that was from a huge shipping company in Denmark.

I was just Michael the owner, but the title CEO get’s toss around here like fries at Burger King at lunch.

Well that is intriguing. I was always tempted to use the title on my websites thinking that since I’m the owner, I can use that title to boost my ego which reminded me of my co-worker about 7  years ago. He was the IT manager of the company then and when he resigned, he set-up a computer repair shop. He called himself a CEO which is stated on his calling card which he gave to us and some of my co-worker then were laughing quietly and told me that he is ridiculous.

So when will we assume that title to fit in an individual? The title CEO (Chief Executive Officer) says it all. That is why he is the “chief” and he “executes orders” right? usually there are board members who appoints the CEO that takes the responsibility. The title separates him to the rest of the flock. It is ridiculous if you are the CEO and do the work a janitor even if the company have dozens of them.

And what about the owners of small mom and pop businesses? do they have the right to call themselves CEO? well maybe, and it’s not a sin to do so because as I read in wikipedia:

For emerging entrepreneurs, their acting position as a CEO is much different than that on the corporate level. As oftentimes other c-level executives(e.g. marketing, information, technical, financial etc.) are not incorporated in small operations, it is the duty of the CEO (and sometimes founder) to assume those positions.

So it’s common sense to think that a founder or a business owner can assume and use the title CEO because he directs and manage his own business. He is a one man band and assumed all the responsibility on marketing, information technical, financial and CEO if he has no employees. And even if he has 3 or 5 employees, then he is still the owner and the CEO. What do you think? do you agree with me?