You already know the price of entrepreneurship is high. 

Starting a company often means putting it all on the line, and there's no guarantee that the risk will pay off. And then there are the emotional swings--the euphoria of success and the crushing blow of failure. 

For a lot of people, one ride on that roller coaster is enough. But for some serial entrepreneurs, that cycle isn't just attractive, it's downright addicting in an unhealthy way, according to recent research. 

Some signs you may be addicted to entrepreneurship include obsessing over your business, neglecting friends and/or outside interests, and experiencing withdrawal symptoms like anger or depression when being forced to turn away from your business. You may also be addicted to starting companies if you're increasingly spending more time with your business than on your health or your personal relationships

"Some of these aspects include the physiological arousal from operating within a context of uncertainty and ambiguity," write the authors of the appeal of risks in the Journal of Business Venturing. Like a gambler on a winning streak, serial entrepreneurs are drawn to the intense emotions they feel when their startups succeed (or fail). And, worse, they tend to bound up their sense of self-worth in these successes and failures. April Spivack of the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh wrote the paper, along with Syracuse professors Alexander McKelvie and J. Michael Haynie. 

It's important to note this category of behavioral addiction mirrors that of gamblers or Internet addicts and not drug or alcohol dependents. And while the professors interviewed just six entrepreneurs, the purpose of the paper was to create a framework for discussing this behavior. 

Being so single-minded about starting companies doesn't have to be all bad. For one thing, if you're a workaholic and working for someone else, you won't see as many of the fruits of your own labor as you would at your own business. 

And spending all of your time on startups has been known to help people become inured to failure and develop a competitive edge after working in business so long. But make sure to keep things in perspective--and don't forget about your loved ones.

Published on: Nov 19, 2014