Taking the time to work with a mentor shows your commitment to excelling in your entrepreneurial endeavors, but so few people really make the most out of their mentoring experience. Instead of taking insights as they’re doled out, asking pertinent questions can provide a more enriching experience. Here are a few topics you may want to address with your own mentor.
Ask for Insight on Specific Issues
If you’re constantly trying to prove how bright and talented you are to your mentor, you’re missing the point. Instead, explain specific challenges and ask how he or she would address them. Even if you don’t choose to follow your mentor’s advice, it can help you refine a strategy of your own.
Ask What Your Mentor’s Average Day is Like
This might seem like prying, but it can give you a more concise impression of your chosen career path. How much time do they spend with their families? Do they have hobbies? How much of the day is spent at the computer? All of these questions can tell you what to expect as an entrepreneur in your specific field or industry.
Offer Your Help
While it may be a given that people begin mentoring as an opportunity to give back, even a devoted philanthropist likes to get something in return. Offer your help and see where that leads. In addition to making your mentor’s day easier, you may also learn new skills or practices that you can incorporate into your own business.
Ask What About Your Mentor’s Start-Up
Finding out what it was like for your mentor as they were starting out can be a valuable learning experience. You’ll learn what weaknesses and strengths they had as a young entrepreneur, and you’ll see what events and experiences still stand out in their minds. This may help you alter your own approach to entrepreneurship, so you can either avoid the same pitfalls, or take advantage of opportunities your mentor missed.
Asking about the things that matter most will help you take more value out of the mentoring relationship. While your mentor may not deliberately be holding back, mentors don’t often think about those things they now take for granted. In some cases, it has been many years since they were starting out, so they may have forgotten what concerns a young or new entrepreneur may have. Taking the time to remind them will create a much more rewarding experience for you both.