Parissa Behnia founded Sixense to build on her previous career incarnations and enact her Sixense Empathy Model™ to serve the business leadership community. She is CMO, startup advisor and angel investor at 678 Partners, a firm offering strategic marketing services. Prior to that, she served as Vice President, Account Director at Wunderman DC, a relationship marketing agency.
Parissa is recognized in the Chicago entrepreneurial community as an advisor and angel investor, with a particular heart for fellow female founders, and a love of creative minds above all else. Parissa co-taught an experiential entrepreneurship seminar for ACM, a collaborative association of Midwest small liberal arts colleges. She is a frequent speaker on topics such as leadership and entrepreneurship and is co-founder of ProductCamp Chicago. She’s also an active mentor and volunteer in cultural, civic, women’s, education and business organizations and has served in numerous service leadership and board positions including the Board of Directors of Ryan Banks Academy.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I started Sixense Strategy because I believe very strongly in the concept of business empathy. I have noticed that in the marketplace, there is a lot of broadcasting and not a lot of listening to understand. By employing empathy, particularly my Sixense Empathy Model™, I help businesses start from a place of understanding when they look to win new customers and work with current customers.
Tell us about your business.
Sixense Strategy helps businesses grow. I work side by side with my clients to help them get from where they are now to where they would like to be. I use my Sixense Empathy Model™ in my work to help clients accomplish their goals.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
Sixense offers 30 minute complementary coaching sessions by phone to all prospects.
- I am currently a mentor at Chicago’s 1871 and mHUB.
- I am also on the Board of Directors of Ryan Banks Academy.
- I hold a BA from Northwestern University.
- I hold an MBA from Stern School of Business, New York University.
Where is your business based?
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I worked with a brand strategist and a copywriter/editor to help with my brand personality and tone.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
In this line of work, I have been successful in using an in-person, high touch approach. The kind of work I do is not transactional. Consequently, it requires clients to like and trust me, which is typically best accomplished through live interaction.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
The biggest challenges are not unlike challenges experienced by other people. Essentially, how does one best differentiate themselves from the competition? And related: making prospects believe that differentiation. A business’ unique value proposition is its superpower. If a business owner does not know her company’s superpower, it will be harder to differentiate.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Knowing one’s domain expertise and communicating that in a way that feels authentic to other people is key to understanding the value and strength of your business’ superpower. This takes constant work and is never a static exercise.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
The best thing to do when stumped is to step away for a few hours (maybe even a day or two) to clear one’s head. The more one is “in” the business, the harder it is to work “on” the business. It can be hard to navigate through difficult times if there is a lack of objectivity. Stepping away helps.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I know my superpower and I communicate that effectively to others.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Let it go.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
The advice I deliver most often is “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.”
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
Trusted circle of friends/advisors. Every person should have a peer or accountability buddy.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
Sixense is very much in growth mode and consequently, I am looking to add more coaching and consulting clients. I am studying which forms of outbound marketing are more successful for businesses like mine.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.