How (Self-)Delusional Is Your Business Card?

So this morning my wife complains to me that during yesterday’s visit to a local cafe she encountered yet another case of “common sense replaced/restricted by machine“:

She wanted to order the “wholegrain breakfast” (grainy bun, butter, jam, coffee & juice) – but exchange the ‘default’ grainy bun for the grainy spelt-version (same cost).

Disempowered employee:

“sorry, no can do. The buns are counted, and the computer won’t let me ring through a spelt-bun instead of the wheat version.”

If you need another reason to support local businesses instead of chain-stores, I reckon this is a fine example WHY!

(then again, we only have to blame ourselves as a society, this is what you get when you want 100% standardization and cheap-cheap-cheap – in this case my wife didn’t even have the choice between ‘chain-store’ and local, because local no longer exists…)

Anyhoo, this thing got me thinking about my slightly pre-mature spring-clean (yes, it’s snowing again, yeah … not;-) from a few days ago:

doing some serious recycling, I had to throw out a bunch of business cards I’d collected over the years.

Pretty much all of them are solo-preneurs, and without fail, every single business card had their role listed as “Founder”, “President”, “CEO”, “Managing Director”.

Mhmm, if you’re a one-(wo)man band, why bother pretending you’re a President. Or CEO. Or Managing Director?

I know, it makes us sound important.

But, as soon as you get yourself some clients, they’ll quickly figure out that you’re a, well, solo-preneur anyway.

And, if you’re doing a good job, and you’re actually providing real value, well, my guess is they’re recommend you to others, in (great) part, because they are getting YOU.

YOU, who takes care of them.

YOU, who can make real decisions, like “heck, have this spelt-bun instead of the wheat-version”.

YOU, who is a human being instead of a faceless corporation.

So, why not be proud of being the Chief-And-Only-YOU-Officer – and heck, if you put CAOYO as job-title, you’ll even have something to talk about – sounds far more interesting than “President” … unless you are a real Mr President of course.

Your take?







  1. I thought this was a peculiarly American issue Veit – what were you El Presidente For Life of?

    I have a stack of biz cards that are only moderately embarrassing and I tell myself they are good for bookmarks – you know, real books.


  2. That’s really an American thingy…

    Best title I could think of: HBMMP
    “Helping Businesses Make More Profit”

    Cheers, Alex

  3. I was talking to the marketing “Director” of a local plumber the other day. It turns out she’s the wife of the bosses son and only works 3 hours a day. Plus there isn’t even a marketing manager reporting to the “Director.” Self-aggrandisement.

  4. Specialist is a much better term than Director/Manager etc – implies some form of expertise. Consultants are two a penny over here in the UK and largely despised……

    • mhmm, interesting. although “despised” is probably a little harsh, I can totally understand where the sentiment is coming from: it’s very easy for a consultant to shift all the responsibility to the client – if anything goes wrong, well, you didn’t implement it properly, we just made some recommendations.
      Similar mindset to what I referred to in my latest Internet Marketing presentation

    • I think you are right Ed.

      Specialist sounds like a bloke that knows what he’s doing rather than a consultant. Consultants are better known for charging a lot for what they say they know rather than for the little they appear to do.

      Tony C

  5. Nahhhh, why should we just stop at “Manager”, “Director” or “CEO”….

    On my next card, I might put Marketing or Managing “Emperor” :o)

  6. Hi, Veit!

    I do a lot of networking and when I go to a big gathering, I’m likely to bring my own expensive looking, gold-colored, metal name tag that reads:

    Mike Schleif
    Janitor @ MDSResource . net

    I can’t tell you how many conversations have begun with comments and questions about my name tag!

  7. Les Courcha says:

    I like it I don’t actually use a business card these days in fact haven’t had one for last couple years I just send a digital card to their phone after all all they really want is my name and phone number. perhaps I should add MAOMNB after my name (me and only me noone better) 🙂

  8. I guess it’s all perception, you have to just go with whatever WORKS.

    The fact is some people are not impressed with a one-person shop and thus was born the practice of putting yourself as President, Director, etc.

    I do like “Specialist” though.

    The thing about “consultant” is anyone can be one, it requires no knowledge whatsoever!

  9. I guess mine would be similar to Les in that I can use TOAOME (The one and only Me)…

  10. I’ve seen so many micro businesses with these grand titles it’s what changed my posture – people do business with me because of what I know not because of any title. For me and my customers it’s all about relationship. When was the last time that you made a purchase on the web and the supplier called you up a few days later to check if the product had arrived and if you were happy with it? I try to do it from time to time and the customer is invariably blown away that someone actually cares.

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