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10 Signs You're Addicted to Being an Entrepreneur

image for undrey / Getty Images
undrey / Getty Images
  • Entrepreneurship becomes an addiction when it has a negative impact on your life.
  • Managing your addiction begins with acknowledging you have a problem.
  • Support is crucial for recovery.

From smoking cigarettes to playing video games, just about any substance or activity can turn into an addictive behavior. But what about starting a business? Can entrepreneurship become an addiction too?

Entrepreneurship may be a great career option for some people, but serial entrepreneurs (those who start multiple businesses) could be more than just business savvy and adventurous. Habitual entrepreneurship can actually be a behavioral addiction, according to a study in the Journal of Business Venturing.

Think you or someone you know might be addicted to entrepreneurship? Business News Daily asked psychologists and career coaches what they think are the top warning signs and symptoms of entrepreneurship addiction. Here are 10 signs to look out for.

"Your family and friends are put in second place. The biggest sign of work addiction is neglecting your family and outside life. When you prioritize the rush of starting one new endeavor after another, your interpersonal relationships suffer. Whether it's a struggling marriage, kids who are resentful and acting out, or not having had a day off in a year, these are all signs that your work is an addiction." – Shannon Kolakowski, licensed clinical psychologist and author

"You neglect your own health – working ridiculous hours, eating horribly, skipping exercise, not caring for illnesses – all in sacrifice to make your business more successful." – Kelly Tonelli, licensed clinical psychologist

"[You feel] the need to begin a new business (or definitely if it's businesses) before the previously established business is out of the hole and into the red." – Peter J. Economou, licensed professional counselor and founder of The Counseling and Wellness Center

"You feel anxious or irritable when you can't engage in activities related to your entrepreneurial pursuits." – Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist, professor and author

"They feel like the drive within themselves to create something new is unstoppable, like a freight train." – Jennifer Martin, founder of Zest Business Consulting

"They do things outside of their normal behavior (e.g., manipulating others) to get the funding they need." – Colleen Mullen, licensed marriage and family therapist at Coaching Through Chaos

"They tend to have poor listening skills. They will talk endlessly about their work and projects but are quick to tune out when the conversation veers away from their interests or benefit." – Roy Cohen, career counselor, executive coach and author

"[You] experienc[e] frequent mood swings related to successes and failures of your startup." – Gilbert Chalepas, licensed clinical psychologist

"You easily generate ideas for launching a business – never actually existing from one, just starting one – [but] nothing about running the day-to-day operations excites you. You love to plan, create and innovate. That's it." – Daphne Mallory, speaker and family business expert

"You don't necessarily have financial (or another form of) success at your ventures, but you keep going, rather than getting a job." – Susan Bartell, psychologist and author

If you recognize these signs in yourself, the good news is there are things you can do to manage your addiction to entrepreneurship.

Alcoholics Anonymous created the 12-step program that is now used by most addiction treatment programs. The first step to recovering from any type of addiction is admitting you have a problem. This seems like a simple step, but it can be the most difficult for many people. It becomes even harder when the addiction is to something that is good in reasonable amounts, like entrepreneurship or even exercise. It's easy to justify the addiction by saying it's something that is good for you.

Before you can change the behavior, you must evaluate how it is negatively affecting your life. This is what motivates you to change. Are your relationships suffering? Is it taking a toll on your health? Is your mental or emotional state not as healthy as it should be?

Once you've recognized the negative impact, it's time to start setting boundaries to lessen that impact. The best way to do this is to start slow and work your way from there. If your relationships are suffering, you can plan for a small amount of time to connect with family and friends without working or speaking about work. If it's your health, perhaps you plan one healthy meal each day. You may also need to set working hours and stick to them. Set boundaries you can live with, and increase them as you get stronger.

Addictions.com states that mindfulness has become an important part of many addiction treatment programs. You are often on autopilot when addicted to something. Mindfulness allows you to experience the moment with self-awareness, making you able to act instead of react.

Support is very personal. Some find all the support they need from family and friends once they are open about their issues. Others find counseling helpful. For severe entrepreneurship addiction, you may need inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment.

According to Healthline, many people with work or entrepreneurship addictions benefit from support groups. Workaholics Anonymous is available for anyone who needs help to stop working compulsively, making it a good choice for those with an entrepreneurship addiction.

Healthline also recommends getting a mental health assessment, because entrepreneurship addiction can be a result of underlying mental health problems like obsessive compulsive disorder.

Business News Daily Editor

Business News Daily was founded in 2010 as a resource for small business owners at all stages of their entrepreneurial journey. Our site is focused exclusively on giving small business advice, tutorials and insider insights. Business News Daily is owned by Business.com.