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Market Insight – Book review: Putting Yourself Before Your Successor

How to prepare yourself for a successful family business transition
Fracchia & Co. - Danielle Fracchia

How to prepare yourself for a successful family business transition

Forget succession plans, constitutions, identifying who will take over from you, and stakeholder engagement. If you (in this case the patriarch or matriarch) are not prepared to hand over a family business, then it is not going to happen (or at best will happen badly). That’s the simple message of Putting Yourself Before Your Successor, a recently released book by Danielle Fracchia that takes a different look at the succession struggle—how those being succeeded can prepare themselves for passing on the baton (rather than simply worrying about their successor). My favourite pearl of wisdom? There is no perfect time to hand over the reins only a better time than others. As a piece of advice, it is simple, direct, and incredibly practical. 

While author Danielle Fracchia has written it to get into the heads of large multigenerational family businesses, it is advice that is fairly universal—but nonetheless important to hear, again, and again. Fracchia’s inspiration for the book is as co-founder of Fracchia & Co., a family cohesion and early-stage succession consultancy firm, based in Australia. There she helps a select group of global ultra-high net worth parents and couples, and large family business owners across two dimensions: building a cohesive family unit and early-stage succession planning. While consulting to large family business owners, she saw that the success of a transition relied more on intangible factors such as emotions and willingness to change than tangible factors such as plans and constitutions. The reality? Many owners understandably underestimate and overlook the importance of self-preparation. As such, they are inadequately prepared for their succession and transition which has the potential to derail the process and also terminate it.

She has a gift for empathy and perception, backed by real world client experience which adds to her gravitas. For example, when warning of the resistance likely to be met from those closest, she not only articulates your feelings but also those around you so you can explain and even pre-empt those feelings.

Written across nine chapters, Fracchia has come up with several innovative ways to get readers to change tack, and look at the succession struggle from different perspectives. She uses in-chapter reflection questions and exercises, client stories and examples, and rounds out with a useful Q&A section at the end of the book which prompts readers to think about further points. Usefully, the book prompts the difficult questions that all those who must soon pass on a business must ask: how will I deal with the loss of power and control? The reduced status? A lack of structure and routine, and ultimately what will I do now? “Gracefully stepping aside” may be easier said than done, but Putting Yourself Before Your Successor helps prepare the all-important psychological groundwork to take the trickiness out of transition. 


Self-preparation is as much a philosophy and belief system as it is the act and execution of self-preparation. The former is full belief and confidence that a successful transition is possible. The latter is unwavering commitment to lead your succession and transition, select and prepare the correct successor, bring stakeholders along your journey, and reinvest your time and energy into a new post-transition reality.

From your decision to step aside to creating a post-transition reality, selling your transition to achieving collective embracement, incrementally relinquishing your responsibilities to rechannelling your energy into new opportunities, and formally handing over the reins to gracefully stepping aside, your self-preparation journey is pivotal not only to yourself, but also to your organisation and those around you.


While there are many pertinent things you should do, three are critical. The first is to step back and carefully reflect on the gravity and impacts of your decision to step aside. The second is to undergo a continual process of honest self-evaluation and improvement. The third is to excel at what you do best – lead – by leading and not simply managing your transition.

Putting Yourself Before Your Successor By Danielle Fracchia




Danielle Fracchia is co-founder of Fracchia & Co., a discreet family cohesion and early-stage succession consultancy firm, based in Australia. She helps a select group of ultra-high net worth parents and couples, and large family business owners across two dimensions. The first is building a cohesive family unit. The second is early-stage succession planning. Fracchia believes family businesses are in a unique position to provide superior value to their families and greater society, yet face complex family relationship and succession planning and transition challenges.

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