Every entrepreneur can benefit from having a business mentor – a person who has already achieved some success and can offer advice and perspective. But if you’ve been lucky enough to find one, you know that business mentors are busy people, so you don’t want to waste their time (or yours).
Knowing your career goals and sharing them with your mentor is a good place to start, because this will help you ask direct, engaging questions that show forethought and help build your relationship. After all, your mentor should get something out of this, too, right?
With that in mind, here are eight questions you should ask your business mentor:
- What mistakes have you made in your career?
Your mentor has made mistakes, just like everyone else. Someone who openly and frankly acknowledges those mistakes and helps you avoid them is a true resource. If your mentor is willing to tell you how to steer clear of potential problems, you know you’ve found someone who’s genuinely interested in helping you.
- What could I do better?
People often ask mentors for assistance with specific issues or problems. That’s fine, and mentors can certainly help with these, but they’re really there to help you grow and improve over the long term. Think about asking questions like, ‘What should I be doing better?’ or ‘How could I work smarter?’
- Who else should I connect with?
A good mentor will be an important part of your network and can help you expand it, too. Ask who else you should know to help you along in your journey. Chances are, your mentor knows other helpful allies and/or is a member of organisations that will allow you to meet other like-minded people.
- What should I do to get where I want to go?
As noted before, knowing your goals is important because they can help guide your discussions and put together a plan of action with your mentor. Asking this question shows you want to be thoughtful about your choices and follow a clear plan.
- What will help me determine the pros and cons of important business decisions?
Sometimes you need to make an important choice – and taking the wrong path can have a negative effect on your business. Before you make long-term decisions, talk to your business mentor. Ask about possible risks and benefits, drawbacks and advantages you may not know about, and what your mentor would do in your place.
- What should I get rid of?
It’s important to learn about what you should and shouldn’t do. If you’re building a new business, for instance, every minute of the day is an investment and you need to become as efficient and productive as possible. Mentors can show you where you’re wasting time and you what you should ignore or outsource.
- What are you trying to accomplish in the next 3-6 months?
This question can lead to a discussion about strategic thinking and help you understand how your mentor solves problems, budgets time and sets goals. It enables you to have an in-depth discussion and learn how this person plans a long-term project.
- What can I do to help you?
Your relationship with a mentor should be just that – a relationship. It’s not all about you. Ask how you can help them, if they have questions for you or if you can be a resource in any way. Maybe you have a skill or knowledge that would help them along in their journey!