The invaluable circles of influence of an entrepreneur


As an entrepreneur, the most important branch in my tree of life is none other than the people around me – family and friends.

By S.T. Rubaneswaran

I firmly believe that we are very much the “image of our surroundings” because the common belief system and values that are established and shared with those around us are the major contributing factors that shape our personalities. Wouldn’t you agree?

For instance, culture, religion, education, customs, and family traditions have immeasurable impact on our character.

In my opinion, however, the most important branch of this influence is none other than the people around us – particularly family, loved ones, close friends, and colleagues, who will somehow influence our character and drive to succeed.

With an obvious impact on our daily lives, I believe we should practice caution as to how we choose our circle of friends; and particularly for an entrepreneur, these acquaintances can either nurture or negate our journey.

In retrospect, I’ve come to realise that rather than having a small number of people I can connect with, I have intuitively chose to have 5 different groups of people based on my environments, traits and interests. Here is the list of my most influential circles of influence:

League of Entrepreneurs

I consider the members of this group my mentors. This group primarily consists of my business partners, clients and other business owners. They are typically mature in age (45 years and above, 10 or more years senior to me); hence are very experienced in their respective areas of expertise.

These are the personalities with whom I consult work and business-related topics. With almost every conversation with these “captains of industries”, I never fail to learn tried and tested insights.

The trick to take advantage of this group is, to ask! Many a-times we shy away from asking questions for fear of being seen as “clueless”, especially in front of a group of people whom you have high regards for professionally. But I quote Confucius, “One who asks a question is a fool for a minute; one who doesn’t is a fool for life”.

Com-Padres in Sports

I’ve adapted to the importance of having a competitive edge through sports as written in my previous blogs, and I will say it again – participating in an active game environment is highly necessary for an entrepreneur!

I have two groups of friends with whom I engage with for badminton twice a week, and my hiking group, where we’re constantly challenging ourselves to conquer greater heights.

When you engage in group sports, you invariably create an environment whereby you push your physical limits with the support of like-minded individuals.

Having connected with these groups and in addition to the obvious benefits to my health, has taught me the application of unwavering focus, and to compete and complement as a team towards success.

Social Service

There’s nothing quite like “offering service without expecting anything in return”. This allows an entrepreneur to understand the core values of life, which then can be applied in his/her organisation and personal skills.

In my case, I am passionate about doing service for a specific temple in Kuala Lumpur with a group of like-minded friends. We listen to what the community has to say on their needs, and offer our time and resources towards advancing their well-being. We also undertake responsibilities to ensure that the needs of the temple are also met.

With this group, I manage to stay aligned to my virtues and continuously meet people from all walks of life by reaching out to the community. Suffice to say, no matter how tough the going gets, I will continue to offer my time (at the very least) to those far more in need than me.

Childhood Friends

Like some of you, I too have a set of friends whom I’ve known since childhood. Over the years, we’ve grown (together) from boyhood to men with families and responsibilities.

It isn’t far-fetched to say that our childhood friends are people who know us best. They offer us a unique comfort, a comfort exclusively theirs.

With this group, I am absolutely unpretentious; embracing my true identity and most importantly, know that they have my back (and I have theirs) when the chips are down.


This blog will not be complete if my wife and daughter are not mentioned – it goes without saying that this beautiful pair is the most important pillar in my journey as a person and as an entrepreneur.

My better half never fails to motivate me when times are turbulent (entrepreneurs undergo this continuously) and it is her strength, positivity and cheerfulness that gets me in my right frame of mind. She is, in short, my beacon of strength.

With our daughter, I make it a point to interact with her daily and her needs are handled by us – my wife and I. I’m deeply convinced that there is a strong co-relation between the mind-set of a child and that of an entrepreneur – as how we perceive the world as “border-less”.

In a child’s mind, there is no such thing as ‘thinking out of the box’ – there is no box! Entrepreneurs need to spend more time with their children – they will teach you more than “just” a thing or two.

In the tree of my life, I consider these five groups, my roots. They are and will continue to be the strongest elements of my life’s foundation.

Have you given a thought to the influential people in your life? Take some time to do so. Trust me, knowing and acknowledging these influencers will help you create a solid output to your emotions, which in return will positively propel you in your entrepreneurial journey.

About the author: S.T. Rubaneswaran calls himself an underdog entrepreneur who constantly strives to be more than what people expect of him. An engineer by qualification, he began my career as a door-to-door salesman, not by choice but from necessity.

Today, with his team, Ruban is chasing his entrepreneurial dreams after having successfully turned around the formerly loss-making Knowledgecom Corporation to become one of Malaysia’s most-sought after training company.

He also wrapped up 2016 by winning the prestigious Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year Award. You can contact him at


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