Blog: Shop Talk: Small and Minority Business Takeaways from Jinal Contractor

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Starting a small business blends trial-and-error with hard-fought triumphs. Jinal Contractor, HCEDA’s new Small and Minority Business Development Officer, understands the ups and downs faced by business owners from her personal experiences as an entrepreneur. In her new position at HCEDA, she is eager to share what she learned and promote the resources that Howard County offers small and minority entrepreneurs pursuing the same pathway.

Jinal began her career as an architect, designer, and consultant for residential, retail, educational, and healthcare projects throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Her client base, which spanned many industries, gave her insight into the collaborations essential to business development.

“Working and living in Howard County gave me an appreciation for its sense of place. Small businesses are the heartbeat of this community, and I wanted to make my mark in a way that mattered,” she said.

Following Her Passions

Careers are often full of detours and off-road adventures, making for unique life experiences. Over seven years ago, Jinal embarked on a new journey as an entrepreneur, following her passions as a food blogger and bread baker. Knowing that connections were key, she enlisted HCEDA’ s business development support from the start. The guidance she received helped her take her idea from her kitchen table to the farmers’ market. The team’s insights affirmed the steps ahead, so Jinal took advantage of workshops, networking opportunities, and expertise offered at HCEDA and the Maryland Innovation Center as often as she could. Her resourcefulness, combined with her experience in brand development, product development, and business, grew her market stall into a storefront operation. Rustiq, an artisan bakery featuring delectable food and a wonderful atmosphere, opened in Savage Mill in 2018.

Tapping Into Available Resources

HCEDA’s targeted assistance helped Jinal grow her business, then provided necessary resources when the pandemic hit in 2020. COVID-19 business assistance helped Jinal keep operations afloat during a difficult time in the restaurant industry.

“As an independent small business owner, I felt supported during those challenging times. The HCEDA team kept me informed about the essential aid and incentive programs at my disposal. Their commitment is exactly why I chose to do business in Howard County. Having lived through the pandemic and coming out strongly gives me an edge as a survivor. I bring experience that will help similar small business entrepreneurs start their own business and succeed,” Jinal noted.

Paying It Forward

After much consideration, Jinal sold her restaurant earlier this year. She immersed herself in her next passion: helping small business owners flourish. She loves paying it forward, sharing what she’s learned to help other entrepreneurs eager to turn an idea into an enterprise. Her new position at HCEDA as the Small and Minority Business Development Officer is a perfect fit.

“As a small independent business owner myself not too long ago,” says Jinal, “I have experienced first-hand the challenges minority entrepreneurs face and how it is to be on the other side of the counter. In my role as the Small and Minority Business Development Officer, I would like to give back all the support and warmth I received when I needed it the most,” she said.

Jinal’s vantage point can benefit businesses in a variety of industries. As an architect, endeavors like designing the framework for a client, mapping out a plan, managing a budget, and collaborating give her the full scope of understanding, benefitting new and growing businesses. When she launched Rustiq, she put these skills into play once again–and then some. Jinal understands the journey and can help businesses connect the dots along the way.

Jinal is excited to serve as a resource for all small and minority business owners in Howard County. As she assumes her new role, her message is heartfelt: “I’m here to equip you with the skills, training, community outreach, and financial assistance you need to achieve and advance your goals. Because of my own experience, I really relate to small and minority business owners. I look forward to working with each one of you,” she said.

Do you have a business idea that you want to take to the next level?
Do you have a home business that is growing, and you want to explore its trajectory?
Do you need funds to expand your existing business?

Jinal can connect you with the HCEDA offerings available to help you and your business start, grow, and thrive.

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