Newly minted business owner with a tech background, and looking to the business folks to give some insight as to what's in a title?
Our company is small, just my wife and myself for now. Our filing with the state lists her as an officer with the title "President", and I am our Registered Agent. In terms of our roles, I'm going to be doing technology and sales, and she'll be focusing on marketing and product development.
Bottom line, we want to choose titles that properly convey what our value is to our company (my tech and management background, her business and marketing background), not necessarily a hierarchy. Any advice on what we should use?
Her: Business Development
(or something roughly similar)
At this time, I would personally stay away from overdoing it. "President, CEO, CTO" and "Senior Vice President of Marketing" (or similar) can come off the wrong way (IMO).
I think the goal should be that if someone meets with you, collects your cards and then wants to follow up later they can determine by title who to direct their question to. The goal is not (again, IMO) to necessarily find the most imposing or powerful title possible and stamp that on your cards (note that I don't get the impression this is what you were implying).
When choosing titles, it should provide the most benefit for the people who will be getting your card. If you're doing fundraising or talking to potential strategic partners, 'Co-Founder' or 'CEO' might be appropriate.
The title of Registered Agent generally doesn't need to be on your business card, since it's not your main job function.
I would say the best title for you would be something along the lines of "Sales & Technology" and for your partner, "Business Development." Since you're a small company, it's better to just mention the areas you work in rather than making up titles when they aren't necessary. For example: Director of Business Development only makes sense if there's a staff to direct.
Check your intent. If it is about self-aggrandizement, don't do it. But if it speaks to who your company is and really communicates something of value, go for it. "Chief Bottle Washer" might really say something if you are in the bottle washing business. Or more metaphorically, it might really say something if your business is all about getting down and dirty. If your business requires a dignified presence, sticking to standard titles makes sense. People like to know they are speaking to the boss but titles that imply a size you are not or layers of management you don't have just come back to bite you in the end.
Founder is relevant if you want to communicate that a) you have significant ownership and b)that you're responsible for it. CEO, while it may feel trumped up, does establish which person in your team is ultimately responsible for the company moving forward.
As we started our business we had various titles depending on who we were talking to.
I would get very different responses from people depending on who they thought they were talking to.
So, given its two of you, it depends on who your sitting in front of ... bank manager, then go for president, if its a customer then head of customer relations or product developer is good because they can have a serioes talk to you and your not just soee lacky, you can affect change on their behalf.
If your intent is to grow your business, my advice would be to come up with the relevant titles you would need if you were say a 20 or 30 person company ... split these between you evenly. This now has several benefits:
To give you an idea. My goal is to get to Chief Dreamer (technology and Business strategy) ... my titles currently are Director, CEO, Marketing Manager, Sales manager, Client account manager. I have handed out project manager, studio manager, developer, senior developer, designer, tester ... you get the idea.
Co-Founder or Partner
Don't get too hung up titles to be honest it's neither going to make or break your company.