Can a person have the title of CEO if their company is unlicensed?


Just the question. I have a "company" which is basically just an online identity and is completely unlicensed (for the time being). Can I actually call myself the "CEO" of the company if it is unlicensed, or no? Does it actually matter (will anyone care)?

Thanks ahead of time.

Company CEO

asked Sep 15 '12 at 17:40
103 points
  • In the US, you can only get a company by registering it. I imagine it is likely the same in the UK and you don't actually have a company. In the US it would be called a sole proprietorship. – Kekito 9 years ago
  • Yes, I don't really have a "company". – Abluescarab 9 years ago

3 Answers


It's best if the title you present to the world reflects what you actually DO. If it's just you, "Owner" is best. If you have two employees -- say, a book keeper and a web designer -- figure out what you "do" and that is your title. If you're an engineer, "Owner and Engineer" might be the way to go.

You're not going to fool anyone with just the title "CEO". They are going to ask you pointy-headed questions and you're going to get nowhere with that. In particular, if you claim to be the "CEO", you might get asked business executive questions you just can't answer. You'd have been better off with "Engineer" in your title -- at least you could answer those questions.

answered Sep 16 '12 at 16:04
Julie In Austin
223 points
  • Thanks for the answer! I will definitely take this approach. – Abluescarab 9 years ago


You can call yourself whatever you like.

Personally, and this may just be because I'm British, I find anybody labelling themselves CEO in a company with less a three digit employee count just a tad silly :-)

answered Sep 15 '12 at 19:08
Adrian Howard
2,357 points
  • Thanks for the answer! I do find it a bit silly, as well, but it probably looks good on a resume. ;) – Abluescarab 9 years ago
  • Until somebody asks you about it.... – Adrian Howard 9 years ago
  • Yeah, then you probably look like a dunce. – Abluescarab 9 years ago
  • If you are doing this so that it looks good on a resume, you are effectively just lying on your resume. I wouldn't recommend that. It's not the best way to start a relationship with your prospective employer. – Joel Friedlaender 9 years ago


In Silicon Valley, it's common for early-stage startups to use the title CEO if it's a high-growth company and their job includes things like pitching investors and building partnerships.

But what's common in Silicon Valley might be viewed differently in regions with different culture.

answered Sep 17 '12 at 04:56
Ashton M.
83 points
  • Thanks for the info! – Abluescarab 9 years ago
  • Certainly if you are pitching investors and have been through the process of actually getting real investors, angel or VC, to hand over a large check, a title of "CEO" is warranted. A CEO is a different breed of person from an engineer with a good idea. I'm an engineer with good ideas and I know that if my company grows much beyond where it is today, I'll be hunting for a CEO. Because I'm not one. – Julie In Austin 9 years ago

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