What is your full name, title, and business name?
Danielle Lim, Co-Creator, Haven Collective
Melissa Blackburn, Co-Creator, Haven Collective
Give us a summary of your business in 200 words or less.
Haven Collective was created by Mel + Danielle 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 skill sets 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 online resource library.
How did the idea for your business come about?
Timing is everything. Mel was looking to start her own business after successfully helping startups grow and find their own 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.
What was the turning point for your business? Was there a moment you knew you had something special?
When the very first member joined Haven we realized that the market research we’d done prior to starting was correct. There was a need for what we were building, and so much so that people were drawn to our vision for the community even while we were still under construction. Those first members trusted us and we were able to build upon the confidence they gave us to bring our vision to life.
What does it mean to you to be an entrepreneur and business owner?
Mel: Freedom to call my own shots. I could never go back to working for someone else again. I have too much desire to create my own reality. I have the ability to design what accomplishment and success looks like to me. Owning my own business has been one big exercise in what really matters and how I want to live my life.
Danielle: The ability to create something with my best friend that is just so special. I would not have become an entrepreneur without her and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.
What does the city of Columbus mean to your business?
The values that Columbus celebrates are very much in alignment with the values we want in our company. We truly embody collaboration and community over competition. And in this big small town, we haven’t met anyone yet who hasn’t wanted us to succeed, or who hasn’t bent over backwards to help us or introduce us to someone else who can.
Are you from Columbus? If not, please explain what brought you here and ultimately what made you stay.
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 here wrapped me in a giant bear hug that felt too good to ever leave.
Mel: I’m from New Jersey. I came here for work and thought I’d be here for a few years, max. 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 go go go go. When I got here I felt like I could chill a little bit. 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 really watch it grow.
What’s the number one piece of advice you’d give to anyone wanting to start a business?
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.
What do you wish you knew about entrepreneurship before starting your business?
Mindset is everything. Work on your mindset above everything else and take your mental health seriously.
What’s the most challenging part of your business (i.e, what keeps you up at night)?
Continually serving our community with excellence.
Every business owner has a flaw. What’s yours?
Mel: Wanting to do it all and being too hard on myself when I can’t.
Danielle: Numbers are not my jam.
Why do you think most business owners fail? What has made you different?
Too often business owners jump to providing a product or service without fully understanding their customer 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 as needed.
When did you know it was time to expand your business, make your first hire, etc.?
We knew it was time to open our second location when we reached capacity at our first location. Having the offices full and not having the ability to support more people in the community had us looking for new space. When we learned the amazing history of the Mansion at 620 E Broad, we knew it was meant to be a Haven.
What is something that you did that was a game changer for your business?
Over the three+ years that Haven Collective has served the Columbus community, we’ve heard from members that so much of what has helped them grow at Haven was connecting to the other members in the community, tapping into our business knowledge, and over all, 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, 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 in workshops.
What is something you’re working on now that you’re very excited about?
Expanding our community membership in and beyond Central Ohio. The Haven community is brighter and stronger when people with more diverse backgrounds and skill sets join, so we’re excited to continue growing this kickass crew with our Community Membership option.
What form of marketing is the most valuable for you?
Word of mouth (referrals)
Who is your best Columbus resource (accountant, lawyer, marketer, etc.)? Please provide name and business name so we can give them credit!
Sierra Thomas – Touche Financial Solutions – Getting support with our books and understanding our numbers at a deeper level was top of our list when we looked for outside support for Haven.
Beth Menduni – MkgDept and Video Story Studio – Beth has helped us level up our content with video storytelling.
Yasmine Robles – Robles Designs – Yasmine is our go-to woman for all things web design. She’s helped us improve our site over the years.
Who do you vent to when you have a business problem?
Each other. We’re so lucky to have one another. It’s the beauty of a business partnership.
Where do you see your business in the next 10 years?
Becoming a leading entrepreneurial ecosystem thriving in and beyond Central Ohio. It will be a tight knit community that shines brighter together.
What was the single worst decision you made regarding your business and how’d you recover?
We fail fast and make a lot of little mistakes but we don’t consider any of it a failure if we’re learning along the way.
When you’re stressed or overwhelmed, what do you do to overcome this feeling?
Mel: Take a walk and drink some water.
Danielle: Meditate and journal
What’s one component of entrepreneurship that’s much different than what most people think?
Mel: You’ll never care about a job as much as you care about your own business. Putting your creation out into the world is the bravest act.
Danielle: Entrepreneurship isn’t sexy. It takes time to build. Sometimes you might be the janitor; plunging a toilet.
What’s your end goal with the business? Is this something you want to pass down to your kids or would you like to eventually sell?
We couldn’t imagine trying to choose a path for our kids. It would please us if they chose to grow the Haven community, but ultimately it will grow under the leadership of someone with a similar passion for entrepreneurship and community building that is at the very foundation of Haven Collective.
What other entrepreneur do you look up to most?
There are so many here in Central Ohio (and nationally) that we look up to:
Josh Scheutzow – A Carpenter’s Son (Mission)
Sarah Blakely – Spanx (Vision)
Jeni Britton Bauer – Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (Values)
If you had to tell a visitor one thing to do/see/eat in Columbus, what would it be?
Do attend an active, social event from The Beauty Boost
See what makes our heartbeat by attending an Ohio State tailgate or football game
Eat your way through Cbus on a Columbus Food Adventure tour or by wandering the North Market