Having an opportunity to spend time with a successful entrepreneur or business person who is willing to be a mentor can be a powerful way to help you achieve your goals and further your business interests. Preparing yourself for a one-on-one session with a mentor is essential so that you can get the most out of this unique opportunity.
One way to prepare yourself is to have some critical questions at the ready that you can consider asking in addition to any questions that can come up naturally during the conversation. Questions can guide your mentor to give you just the right insights you need.
With that in mind, here are a set of questions to start you off:
Key Business Topics
Some of the challenges when running a business of any size include topics such as uncertainty about the future, decision-making, attracting customers and effective problem-solving. With that in mind, here are a few questions that may inspire you when you meet with your mentor.
- If you find that you get bogged down in tactics at the expense of strategy when running your business, ask your mentor how you can balance both. What approach worked well for him or her?
- Briefly explain a business problem you've struggled with and how you tried to solve it. Ask: What could I have done differently to solve the problem?
- What are some ways to prepare for uncertainty?
- What are some best practices for attracting new customers?
- What are some of the most effective marketing tactics or techniques? Is there a marketing approach that has worked best for you?
The most important question you can ask yourself is: What action can I take based on the insights I received?
Good leadership skills are essential in guiding people and building relationships within teams to grow and succeed. Important considerations in leadership include the ability to inspire people, to help them grow and to empower them to give you their best. You might consider asking your mentor these few questions which might help you in your quest to be a good leader.
- What are some ways you've used to show others in your team (or organization) that you value their input?
- How do you inspire people with your communication?
- Is it OK to allow team members to move away from established practices and break the rules? When is it OK to do so, and how can I set boundaries?
- How can I effectively communicate (or manage, or motivate) a remote team?
- How do you operationalize the core values in your company?
The ability to innovate is vital for long-term survival. Whether it's developing new products and services, continuous improvement or the abandonment of established practices that no longer work, innovation is the cornerstone of success. How can you leverage your time with your mentor to gain insights in this important area for any business? These questions may spark ideas to get you started.
- How do you spot opportunities for innovation?
- What are some technology trends you think I need to understand?
- How do you stay updated with technology disruptors you think a business needs to know about?
- What's the best way to pitch a new idea to venture capitalists?
- How do you go about generating new ideas?
In addition to asking questions about strategic imperatives such as key business topics, leadership and innovation, consider including some general questions to enrich the discussion and build rapport with your mentors.
- If you were to start another new business, what would it be?
- What's the best professional advice you've ever received?
- What is one book every entrepreneur should read?
- Can you share a favorite time-saving shortcut?
- What are your daily habits for success?
Have fun with your exciting mentorship opportunities. After the sessions, consider summarizing each session to capture the key takeaways from your mentors. And the most important question you can ask yourself is: What action can I take based on the insights I received?
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