Are you making sure the most important employee in your business is being taken care of?

By Nicole Belanger (Contributing Writer, Women 2.0)

In the beginning it was just you, maybe with a co-founder, and an idea. It was a little lonely and a lot busy. Being the scrappy entrepreneur that you are, you monitored your overhead carefully, staying as small as you could for as long as you could.

But eventually the day came when you just couldn’t manage the load alone anymore. So out you went into the world, seeking more hands to lighten the load, individuals with diverse expertise to complement your strengths and balance out your weaknesses.

It took time and effort, but eventually you pulled together a solid staff team and a trusted team of advisors and service providers. And all that hard work payed off — you came to understand that teams are the foundation upon which strong founders and successful companies are built. You had peace of mind knowing that when you encountered the inevitable bumps in the road, you already had a reliable team at your disposal that would allow you to quickly address a crisis.

But I’m afraid there is one team you may have forgotten to invest in. In fact, it’s one team that most founders forget about. And, unfortunately, you likely won’t realize how much you need it until you are feeling burned out and in a desperate situation. It isn’t a formal team like employees on payroll, nor is it likely to involve pricey retainers. But it is of vital importance to the success of your organization.

I’m talking about your self-care team.

It may seem like something you file under “nice-to-have,” but building a strong self-care team early on in your entrepreneurial journey is crucial to your long-term success. From confidants to coaches, putting the thought and energy into intentionally building a team to support your mental, physical, spiritual and emotional well-being is a wise investment in your sanity and stability.

This collection of individuals — some paid and others not — should be a reflection of where you are and what you need today as well as where you want to be and how you want to grow. Every founder is different, so no two self-care teams will look exactly alike. With that in mind, here are some suggestions of the kinds of people you might consider putting around you to support you on your journey to greatness:

A Physician

From annual check ups to routine screenings to injuries and ailments, having a trusted physician that you can call when you are in need is important. As the leader of your business, your physical health is the cornerstone of your company. A doctor will help keep you performing at optimal levels.

A Mental Health Professional

While it might not be a popular topic of conversation around the water cooler, 32 percent of Americans are have sought professional mental health support. Chances are, if you ask around to your family, friends and colleagues, you’ll find many people who have experienced the benefits of professional counselling.

Amid the growing conversation about founder depression and suicide, many entrepreneurs are sharing their experiences with therapy in the hopes of inspiring others to get help. While there are many types of mental health professionals, finding the right therapist isn’t always easy. Follow these tips to find a good therapist for your needs.

Quality Friends

As author Elbert Hubbard said, “a friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” Entrepreneurship can quickly become a lonely way of life if you don’t invest time and effort into nurturing friendships, both old and new.

But beware: Not all friends are created equal. “The #1 decision affecting your ability to kick ass in life is making a conscious decision as to who you spend time with”, says Dan Martell, founder of Clarity. His solution? Conducting regular friendventories.

An Accountability Partner

This can be your brother, your co-founder or even the mom you share carpool duties with. Breaking old habits and building new ones is hard, and having someone who will help keep you on track and steer you back on course is essential to your long-term growth. Staying accountable can be as simple as an email or phone call check-in every Monday morning listing your progress from the past week and sharing your goals for the coming one.

Fitness Professional

Whether you splash out for a personal trainer or you find a class at your neighborhood gym you love, having a professional who will guide you and motivate you to get in those all-important workouts is tremendously valuable.

Nutrition Expert

Just like with fitness, this can be a real, live human who comes into your home, or someone who teaches you through the pages of a book. The food you put into your body has a direct impact on the quality of work that you are able to produce for your business.

Spiritual Support

A doctor, a best friend and a trainer are obvious choices for a self-care team, but spiritual well-being often gets overlooked. But the reality is that we are complex human beings, and spirituality is an important component of wellness for many people. And the beauty is that spiritual support can be anything you desire — from a yoga teacher, to a chaplain, to the great outdoors.

Somewhere to Give Back

Generosity is good for your health. No, really — it can even extend your life. Finding a cause or an organization to support is a great way to get your mind off your troubles and infuse your life with gratitude and positivity.

While you won’t be able to assemble a crack self-care team overnight, the key is to start seeking out these individuals now. Just like you don’t wait to make a connection with a PR person until a crisis, it’s best not to leave this until something goes wrong.

Who’s one of the important people on your self-care team?