Finding your entrepreneurial niche can take many paths

Houston is marketed as the “City with No Limits” where no matter what your origin, you can succeed. An entrepreneurial attitude can help you create your next opportunity in this environment. Here’s an impressive example of an entrepreneur.

Born to a father from Hong Kong and mother from Taiwan, Susan Kwok Annoura moved from her birthplace of Silver Spring, Maryland, to the Houston suburb of Clear Lake when she was 2 years old. While attending Baylor University, she had the opportunity to study abroad in Fukuoka, Japan. In 1994, she married a Japanese keirin racer and moved to Fukuoka on a permanent basis, where she lived for 14 years.

Unique opportunities

As an American in Japan, Susan found many unique opportunities, from translating for a company that imported high-end automobiles from Los Angeles, to working nine years as a radio personality, to getting her first taste in real estate (a barber shop!). She obtained her master’s degree in education and taught English to Japanese executives and college students.

In 2007, Susan and her family moved back to Houston. She suddenly realized that she had no work experience in the United States having left at 22. While the excitement of living abroad provided a greater understanding of another culture, she wondered how she would find her next opportunity.

She looked to her skill set and found three things she could use: her familiarity with Houston, her gift of gab from her years on the radio and her fluency in Japanese and Mandarin. The real estate industry seemed the perfect choice where she could use these skills and manage her own time and schedule while balancing her young family.

In 2010, Susan obtained her Texas broker’s license and opened Annoura Realty Group LLC. From the beginning, her tagline was “Specializing in International Buyer/Tenant Representation.” This was a limited niche and it took perseverance and many years of word-of-mouth advertising to get her company recognized and pursued by Japanese human resource departments.

Susan has created a niche for her company and is now the leader in her field. She created a Japanese blog, Yokoso-Houston, as well as an 18-page FAQ sheet and several video lessons about how to live in the U.S. Today, Susan’s team of five agents and two administrative staff handle the majority of the Japanese relocation to Houston.

This growth in the Japanese market has led to commercial real estate opportunities as well. Susan brokered a Japanese supermarket featuring a Japanese food court, an Izakaya restaurant and is currently working with several ramen shops.

Internationalism

Susan Annoura used her entrepreneurial spirit to impact Houston’s economy and internationalism.

Her advice to others servicing the Japanese market:

  • Japanese culture has zero tolerance for errors. Detail and accuracy are critical.
  • Focus on developing a positive reputation.
  • Be involved in organizations to increase your credibility.

Susan is a member of Houston Association of Realtors International Advisory Group, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Committee, Asian Chamber of Commerce, and Asian American Real Estate Association of America Houston — a true example of an entrepreneurial attitude helping create your next opportunity.

Linda Toyota is president of the Asian Chamber of Commerce of Houston. With more than 20 years experience in the nonprofit community, she has worked with a wide array of nonprofit organizations including the Holocaust Museum Houston, the Houston Technology Center, the Texas Heart Institute and the Houston Area Women’s Center. Contact her at [email protected]