Don’t Be The Decision Maker

I handed someone my business card at a conference, and it identified me as the President of my company. In talking with him a bit, he recommended that I lose the “President” title on my card, and I think he has a very good point that I want to share.

Although it might feel “cool” to hand out business cards to identify yourself as “the main man,” “head honcho,” “big cheese,” or whatever nickname you see fit, it may actually be to your detriment. Whether you are dealing with a vendor, or if you are negotiating a domain purchase or sale,  being the decision maker has drawbacks.

When you are dealing with a vendor or a potential vendor, the last thing you want is to be hassled while you are trying to make an important decision. Endless emails and phone calls seem de rigueur, and if the vendor knows you are the person that can decide the fate of a significant agreement, you will continue to be pestered until a decision is made.

Similarly, if you are negotiating a domain deal, you often aren’t given enough time to really digest the acquisition or sale.  The person on the other side of the negotiation wants you to move fast so he can close the deal. Trust me, I am usually the person on the other end of the phone or email trying to close the deal.

When you bring a business partner into the equation, whether phantom or real, you slow the negotiation and can relieve some of the inherent pressure that comes with being the decision maker. You can tell a vendor you appreciate his candor, but your partner wasn’t interested. You can also buy some more time in negotiations with a line like, “I need to discuss this with my business partner before giving you an answer.”

Having a business partner can be a solid business move, allowing you to get more than one vested opinion. However, even if you don’t actually have a business partner, there’s nothing wrong with operating like you do have one.

** The caveat is that you should never back out of a deal as a result of this invisible business partner, since you’ll sully your own reputation.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. I have never understood why a person with less than three people put “president” or “CEO” on their business card. You’ll usually find that owners of companies are the ones that care less than anyone else about having cards. We only get them because it’s a necessity of communication. This isn’t anything against you Elliot but I only give titles to employees. I can give someone a “title raise” without giving much money and they still get excited. “Congratulations Jim, I’ve promoted you to Executive Jr. Vice President” . My cards never say anything because I don’t want it to say owner and I personally have always hated the other upper management terms. I find it humorous to have the title of CEO in a 40 person company. My card is merely info on how to get hold of me. They’ll know my roll within a 5 minute discussion.

  2. @ Shane

    When I started the company, all the forms asked for a title. It was also pretty cool to be able to say that I am President of something… LOL. I am well over that phase now.

  3. Good point. flagging yourself as the God of making decisions could backfire at you and even seen as a vulnerability for talented sales people.
    I’m a partner in a physical business, and I enjoy the title of “director of operations” than “president” or “vice president”. it gives me more room and freedom to make decisions and close deals.

  4. Good lesson. Especially here in Asia where business deals are often discussed after several drinks, you always need an out. “I agree with you and want to make the deal, but I still have to clear it tomorrow with my (choose one):

    Accountant (he has all the numbers, not me)

    I am sure there are others. I wouldn’t say wife even if it were true, though!

    Having that automatic escape clause makes those late nights drinking with clients/suppliers much less stressful. I use it no matter how good the idea sounds (if we’ve been drinking).

  5. The great thing about starting/owning a business is that you can call yourself anything you like – and (within reason) do anything you like within it…

    I know one owner/head of a startup that used to have the title: ‘Go-to Guy’ on his business card….:)

    You make an inyeresting point, Eliot, but, having a ‘CEO’, or ‘President’ title on your card can give the other party confidence that they are investing their time wisely in negotiating with you (this matters if you want their attention, say, to buy/sell a name from/to them)…..After all, not a lot of people want to be talking to some messenger boy who is a NON-decision-maker in a domain sale/purchase transaction. Folks want to be dealing with the guy that calls the shots on a deal!

    It also saves time in having to explain to someone what you do in the outfit.

    The other thing, is that business requires many skills – and one of them is the ability to say – straight – ‘Yes’, or ‘No’ on any deal. You don’t need a partner (or even a Ghost partner!) to be able to call it when you need to…. 🙂

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