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Is Entrepreneurship Addictive? For entrepreneurs, failure is just another lesson learnt; a stepping stone to success.

By Ashish Jhalani

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The adrenaline high of being an entrepreneur beats all other "highs'. The thrill of launching something new, the freedom of being your own master and the satisfaction of chasing your dreams is a high no other can beat.

Little wonder then, even though most entrepreneurs fail to succeed in their first few ventures, they insist on getting back onto the bandwagon all over again with all the gusto. It's almost like an addiction which consumes your being and you just can't seem to get enough of it!

A recent study by the University of Wisconsin and Syracuse University professors has identified what can be called as the "Serial Entrepreneur Syndrome". They closely interacted with quite a few entrepreneurs who were juggling more than one enterprise at once and had plans for some more.

There were quite a few defining factors that were a common thread defining these individuals:

  • No looking back: A lot of the entrepreneurs never went back to a corporate job even after facing multiple failures.
  • Exhibit obsessive behaviour: They are constantly thinking about work and feel the urge to remain "plugged in' (through texting, emails, calls), even all odd hours. They are unable to "switch off' even on weekends or vacations.
  • Prioritize work above all personal responsibilities towards family and friends: It feels okay to them to miss out on their children's birthdays and anniversaries, cut back on social and recreational activities because they are "hooked' to their work.
  • Put in more and more money into their business even when not feasible: They didn't shy away from borrowing or selling assets, even though it's a great personal risk, to keep the sinking ship afloat.
  • Experience withdrawal symptoms when not working: They showed signs of anxiety, restlessness, anger or depression, when not working.

All these factors have an uncanny resemblance to issues plaguing addicts and people with compulsive disorders!

So, what is it about being an entrepreneur that is so all consuming?...

Without a doubt, it is the thrill of being on the edge of something big, almost like a gamblers who have their eyes set on the "big win'! Serial entrepreneurs are drawn to the intense emotions they feel when they succeed or fail. Everything else feels flat in comparison.

Add to it the feeling of ownership; it's almost like creating your own baby. These factors together get an entrepreneur to fall hook, line and sinker for their work.

There comes a stage when sleeplessness, moments of euphoria and exultation in triumph, and lows of disappointment and helplessness give the highs and lows akin to a junkie. In fact, their whole sense of self worth is connected with the creation of a business and this is what drives them to keep going.

Nothing drives them more than creating something new and they enjoy the journey of "getting there' as much as the end goal. They almost thrive in the madness of trying to achieve those little milestones that take them closer to their vision.

Above all, they are not deterred by failure. For them, failure is just another lesson learnt; a stepping stone to success. They are not afraid to keep trying till they succeed, and they view every challenge as another opportunity to test their own mettle. And once they experience that "high' of making a venture successful, they want to do it all over again. And that's how the next idea is born!

Ashish Jhalani

Angel Investor, Mentor & Founder, eTailing India & Co-founder, Indian School of eBusiness

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