The competition between small businesses and big-box chains isn’t just about size.

By Bill Brunelle

More importantly, it’s about independence. Small businesses are independently owned and operated, allowing for local decision-making and responsiveness. They make local economies stronger by keeping profits in the community and creating a diversified, resilient marketplace. To beat the big boxes, it’s important to celebrate the benefits that flow from independent businesses ­­— and the Fourth of July holiday is the perfect time to get started.

This year, make Independence Day a celebration of country and company. Your business supports the local and national economies, creates jobs and reflects the local culture. Your story represents the American dream: turning your passion into success for your family and the local community. Take pride in the independence that you have built.

Given this independence, it’s no wonder that American consumers have rallied around their beloved small businesses. In recent years, the growth of Small Business Saturday and the return of Main Street have demonstrated that consumers want to shop small and support the independent economy. Keep up the momentum by using this Independence Day to declare your independence to local consumers.

Join a Main Street Group

Main Street organizations, such as small business associations, independent business alliances and Local First campaigns, unite local businesses to achieve a common goal. They promote, advocate for and drum up enthusiasm for local businesses in the community. In doing so, they create a local, identifiable brand that small businesses can leverage to build name recognition and easily identify themselves as local. Chances are, your local Main Street group has an Independence Day celebration in the works. Join now to make the most of the upcoming holiday and promotional support all year long.

Be Social

Shout your independence from the digital rooftops. It’s no secret that consumers like to check out a business online before visiting in person. For this reason, it’s important to make sure your online presence reflects the inviting atmosphere you’ve created in store. During the Fourth of July season, take advantage of relevant hashtags and patriotic pride to share content that will tie in the holiday. By making your content as relevant as possible, you ensure that social media sites share it with as much of your audience as possible. Leverage independent-themed content from Independent We Stand or your local Main Street organization to keep the content coming all summer long.

Put Your Business on Parade

This time of year, downtown districts are bustling with activity. From patriotic parades to electrifying fireworks, your local community surely has a Fourth of July celebration on the calendar. Connecting your business to these local events is a valuable way to meet new consumers, give your existing customers a new way to engage with your business and network with other business owners. Whether you build a float for the local parade or hand out refreshing drinks at the summer concert series, each local event brings a new opportunity to deepen your connection with the community.

Practice What You Preach

No matter how you plan to celebrate the holiday, make sure it’s local. Whether you serve up a backyard barbecue that features local produce and pickings from a nearby farmers market or “cheers” to the beautiful summer day with an IPA from your favorite local brewery, by practicing what you preach, you can increase the impact of your go-to purchases and strengthen your fellow local businesses. The season may call for independence, but independents can only thrive by working together.

This Independence Day, declare your freedom from the big-box business model and national chains. Find new ways to celebrate your local community and strengthen the local economy. Consumers, and your country, will thank you for it.

Bill Brunelle is co-founder of Independent We Stand, a cause-marketing campaign sponsored by STIHL, Do it Best Corp., PPG Paints and Nationwide Marketing Group, which is dedicated to educating communities about the importance and strong economic benefits of supporting locally owned businesses. Independent We Stand inspires small business owners across the country to celebrate their locally owned status and help consumers understand the importance of supporting them. @IndWeStand

Businesses stock photo by Kenneth Sponsler/Shutterstock