‘Succession’ Is Why I Don’t Like Calling Myself a Business Owner

T.S. Lowry

Pick the title and it’s yours!


Photo by André Ravazzi on Unsplash

You don’t have to be the founder/CEO of a Fortune 500 to call yourself a business owner. People might call me a business owner, but the biggest decision I made all day as a business owner is deciding between three or four eggs for lunch.

You can call yourself whatever you want—you have that right, and if you want to be called a business owner because of a sense of title or because it’s correct, then you do you.

Now more than ever, after finishing Season 2 of Succession, I don’t want to call myself an owner of a business.

In the Season 2 finale, Logan Roy (played by Brian Cox), founder of media conglomerate Waystar Royco, had to make a decision that’s considered more difficult than, say, how many eggs a person will eat for lunch.

All-business-with-a-small-hope-for-empathy Logan had to decide who would take the fall for covering up a horrid business scandal. This person would forever be deemed an asshole and poor excuse for a human, and a side dish of prison time could follow. Making this decision tougher, Logan knew he would have to sink a family member — one of his kids — for it to be meaningful enough and steer the morally-bankrupt ship from further legal action.

Someone had to take the fall, and he picked a family member who then gifted the blame to Logan in a press conference.

Now that’s a business decision.

Everyone is an entrepreneur or business owner nowadays — pick the title and it’s yours! Some people even dare to call themselves CEOs.

Investopedia defines CEO as…

"...the highest-ranking executive in a company, whose primary responsibilities include making major corporate decisions, managing the overall operations and resources of a company, acting as the main point of communication between the board of directors (the board) and corporate operations and being the public face of the company. A CEO is elected by the board and its shareholders."

Sure, I’m technically the highest-ranking executive in my company, but it’s a company of one. I’m, therefore, the only shareholder — the only person who could or couldn’t appoint me.

I can accept “business owner” as that’s technically true, but “CEO” seems a bit immature for a one-person company. It’s entitled to a literal title. (Talking about fake it til you make it.)

I suppose I prefer “writer,” but I also don’t like announcing that at bars or to family members because the “have I read you” and other questions about writing I don’t care to answer make their way to the conversation.

Of course, for every asshole who gets sassed up about an owner of a one-person company calling himself a CEO, there’s an asshole who gets sassed up for a person who calls himself a writer yet hasn’t traditionally published or have validated bylines.

I’m only half-kidding about this conversation, but, then again, I’ve worked with a handful of clients who call themselves entrepreneurs, CEOs, business owners. They brag about how successful they are. How much money they make. Huge business deals that are about to go down. Yet they can’t afford to pay for a few blogs that were agreed upon.

Maybe my feelings for calling oneself a business owner prematurely is because of my own insecurities. And that I’m stuck in the cycle of being one missed payment away from homelessness. Then again, I’m tired of the confident lies when I bury people in embarrassing honesty. It’s awesome if you’re successful and you’re allowed to brag about it.

But I’m clearly over the hustle culture as many people are. What I want is honesty. And if I’m being honest, I don’t want to be called a writer. I don’t want to be called anything. Titles do matter, but you also have to be willing to accept the burden and responsibility of them. As for me, I choose titleless and three over-medium eggs. I’ll leave the real business decisions up to the Logan Roy’s of the TV world.

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Just a guy who likes to cruise the aisles at the local 7-Eleven

Los Angeles, CA

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