Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Danielle Lim and Melissa Blackburn, Co-Creators of Haven Collective, located in Columbus, OH, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Mel and Danielle created Haven Collective to nurture and support the entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small businesses in our communities who are often isolated, working solo from their homes to grow their businesses. The Haven coworking community thrives by bringing together people with diverse backgrounds and skillsets who are all looking to level up personally and professionally. Beyond open coworking, private office, and conference room workspace, Haven provides growth programming to the community designed to support the collective through one-on-one business coaching, peer group masterminds, workshops, and an online resource library.

Tell us about yourself

Timing is everything. Mel was looking to start her own business after successfully helping startups grow and find their exits. Danielle had been working from home for over a decade and saw some glaring holes in the offerings for remote workers in Columbus. Over dinner one night, our discussion turned into Haven Collective, a solution to truly support those flying solo in a better way. Before founding Haven Collective, Mel and Danielle had very different paths that led them to one another:

Danielle: I bounced around Ohio and Michigan since the late 90s. It wasn't until a bad relationship ended and I rediscovered myself in graduate school at The Ohio State University that I fell in love with Columbus. I didn't decide to stay so much as Columbus and the community wrapped me in a giant bear hug that felt too good ever to leave.

Mel: I'm from New Jersey. I came here for work and thought I'd be here for a few years. And I fell in love with it here. I couldn't believe how kind and open people were, and I felt like I could breathe. It was a different way of life. I knew this was the environment I wanted to explore who I was without the hustle and bustle of New York/New Jersey. I had been there, done that, and done well, but I was always going go go go. I felt like I could chill a little bit when I got here. I'm really glad I stayed. I saw something percolating in the city when I moved here in 2007. I felt the growth and opportunity bubbling up, and I wanted to be a part of that opportunity. Since then, Columbus has become a cultural epicenter. Where I'm from, it was saturated and dog-eat-dog. Here you can plant a seed and watch it grow.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Over the four years that Haven Collective has served this community. We've heard from members that it helped them grow at Haven by connecting to the other community members. Tapping into our business knowledge and being held accountable to the goals they set for themselves by others. We took everything they said, and we now provide that Community access beyond our four walls. Anyone flying solo and in need of support can join our community no matter where they live and access our community of entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small businesses. They can gain support and accountability through one-on-one business coaching sessions or peer group masterminds. And they can grow through learning opportunities provided in the resource library and workshops.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Continually serving our community with excellence. It's what keeps us up at night.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Everyone you look up to has been doing it a long time. Don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle. That comparison can paralyze you from taking the first step. We need you to take that step.
  2. Mindset is everything. Work on your mindset above everything else and take your mental health seriously.
  3. Know who you serve and why. Too often, business owners jump to providing a product or service without fully understanding their customers in a way that truly allows their product or service to resonate. So the audience isn't there. We built continuous improvement into our foundation by communicating with our community and making adjustments.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

We're expanding our community members in and beyond Central Ohio. The Haven community is brighter and stronger when people with more diverse backgrounds and skillsets join. Hence, we're excited to continue growing this kickass crew with our Community Membership option.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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