Editor’s Note: Next week is National Veterans Small Business Week, a chance to celebrate veterans-turned-small business owners, like Suzie Mills, Air Force Veteran and founder of Honest Soul Yoga. Read on about her journey to become a small business owner and how Grow with Google is making it easy to find veteran-led businesses. You can learn more about our Grow with Google resources for veterans on our site.
My grandmother served during WWII and when I was growing up she told me stories about how proud she was to be in the military. I wanted to follow in her footsteps and serve my country, too, so I joined the Air Force Reserves in 2004. My unit was deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 and the experience took a toll on my nervous system. I eventually found yoga, which gave me the tools I needed to process and move through stressful feelings in a healthier way. When I finished my service obligation in 2012, I wanted to share the healing power of yoga with other members of the military, and create a place that had a strong sense of community.
When I opened Honest Soul Yoga, I quickly realized that a clear, accurate and attractive online location listing for our business was imperative. Quite simply, it’s how people show up at our door. So I turned to Google for help. Products like Google Ads and Google My Business connect me with people who are looking for yoga studios in my area. Before using Google tools we had a phone at the front desk, but it rarely rang. Now, we get several calls an hour! Every call is an opportunity to get a new member through our doors.
Being a veteran-owned business is a big part of Honest Soul Yoga’s identity. We understand the challenges of frequently moving to new cities, being away from family, or having family away for extended periods of time. We appreciate those sacrifices and try to provide a place to connect with the community and meet new people. The addition of the Veteran-Led attribute to our Business Profile on Google makes it easier for potential customers to see that we’re military-friendly.
We’ve always had big plans for this small business, and we’re grateful for our growth, which includes our second location that opened last month and our third location opening before the new year. Over half of our employees are veterans and military spouses and we’ve been offering weekly yoga classes at Fort Belvoir for military families for more than three years. We aim to give back to the military community any way we can.
I’m proud that Honest Soul Yoga became the kind of community that I sought when I left the military—a place where veterans and military families really feel like they belong. Many other veteran-led businesses have the power to bring people together in this way, too. It’s now easier to find veteran-led businesses across the U.S. with this map, created by Grow with Google.