Using the right title within a company is not only a matter of professionalism. Most importantly, it helps both customers and employees know who to report to/direct their issues to. This, in turn, keeps internal operations running smoothly by delegating the right tasks to the right people.
Still, we see several business owners and managers going by the wrong title, most commonly due to confusion or a “who cares?” approach. Although it sounds confusing and maybe even unnecessary, knowing your title matters. Not only will you be more confident when talking to and hiring employees, but you’ll also know exactly what your particular role should be to move the business forward.
We’re going to clarify the most commonly misused titles below, which by the way are anything but interchangeable. If you’re still unsure about what to put in your job description, keep reading.
A founder is someone who has the initial idea for a startup and gets it out of the paper and off the ground. A founder shouldn’t be confused with a CEO, as he or she may not run the same business after it’s been founded. However, in case they’ve founded the startup and still own and run the business, they may title themselves Founder & CEO.
If a person assists a founder in establishing a business (even if the initial idea didn’t come from them), this person may title themselves a co-founder of the startup.
Above all, the founder should be driven by vision and passion. In the beginning, they’ll be the man (or woman) of all work: coming up with and refining their original business idea, managing revenue, planning short and long-term goals and the strategies to reach them, and pitching to investors. Of course, these tasks will be distributed in the long run, but someone has to get them started. That’s the role of the founder.
Lastly, a founder is the one takes the very first steps to bring the startup to life. They must invest a lot of money, time, and work in the idea so it can come to fruition.
CEO (Chief Executive Officer) is a title most people want to have—but not all of them can. In simple terms, the CEO is the highest position in a company. Some people may trade this term for “President” or for “Chief Executive”.
A CEO is also not necessarily a founder. However, he or she follows and maintains a business strategy that will keep the startup at its highest health.
The roles of the CEO are various. They must be the eyes, ears, and voice of the company to communicate with shareholders and their overall public. Think about Mike Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, and how they’re always representing their companies in public events.
They should set tangible goals for the company, delegate tasks and be decision-makers, as well as stay updated about the competitive market and potential opportunities/threats for the company. All this while staying faithful to the startup’s mission and vision.
In short, a CEO keeps a company running successfully and selects the right professionals to help them do it.
Last but not least, the Managing Director is the professional who is less “visionary” than the CEO, but stands side-by-side with the CEO when it comes to level of hierarchy within a company. He or she is more involved with the daily operations of a company rather than the future of the company.
While the CEO manages the performance of the company as a whole, a MD individually oversees the operations of every department. They aren’t usually involved with outside operations such as public events. Instead, their role is solely internal.
The managing director will report any progress or drawbacks to the Board of Directors (not to the CEO!) when it comes to daily office functions, as well as help every department within a company run as they should. Therefore, a managing director title should not be used interchangeably or complement the CEO title.
Of course, there are several additional titles within a company. However, the three above titles are usually easier to misuse.
It’s important that you write a detailed job description to justify your business title.Besides knowing what your exact title is, you should know who you report to or who reports to you, as well as your qualifications, and your main responsibilities in clear detail. By doing that, you’ll grow familiar with your function and help build a thriving company—or maybe find that you should immediately revise your title.
Although subtle, the differences between these three descriptions become clear once you take an extra minute to learn about them. It pays to replace your title if need be since this newly-acquired knowledge will positively impact the way your startup runs from now on.