Asking a mentor for feedback is a critical step in turning an idea into a successful business. Noted members of the Young Entrepreneur Council share how they feel ‘treps should make the best use of mentors below–
Draft a Summary
Entrepreneurs’ ideas are often most easily “felt” through passion and an intuitive belief that great potential awaits. When expressed verbally, however, the vision can be easily misunderstood. Avoid this by taking some time to write a concise, one-page Executive Summary that you can share with mentors you respect. This will ensure they understand your idea and offer relevant and quality feedback.
Time Is Valuable
If you’re in a mentoring relationship with someone who is also an entrepreneur, there is one thing that you both know is ridiculously valuable: time. Regardless of whether your next business venture is the greatest or worst idea you’ve ever had, keep the call focused to keep mentors in your life. Have an agenda and stick to it. You can make small talk later. Time is money; spend it wisely.
While preparation is important in pitching a business idea to anyone, the best tip for asking a mentor for feedback is not to hesitate about it. Your mentors are there for you to bounce ideas off. Most mentors are thrilled when you come to them with questions or feedback solicitations, so don’t pause in engaging them in your project. They — and you — will be glad if you don’t wait.
One Small Step
They’re busy and smart, so treat them as such. Don’t ask for a long term commitment up front and don’t waste their time. Start with a short email with options you’ve thought of to a problem you are facing. Ask them to simply reply with which option they think is the best. Implement, thank them, and show them how their advice got you results.
Ask For Specific Feedback
If you’ve chosen the right mentor, they have a wide body of expertise and experiences to draw on. Too many entrepreneurs present a lot of information to mentors and then ask something akin to, “What do you think about all this?” That gets nowhere. Better to have structured information and ask for specific feedback: “Is this key assumption realistic?” or “Is this an appropriate place to start?”