Kenneth Benning, Founder, Exmoor Caviar
Set up in 2012, Exmoor Caviar is the UK’s first and only caviar producing farm. Having been trading in caviar both in a retail and wholesale capacity for years prior to this, founder Kenneth Benning saw an opportunity to create a truly unique caviar that would rival any fine caviar from the continent. Based in North Devon at the foothills of the Exmoor National Park, the farm uses naturally filtered spring water to raise its sturgeon. Their focus is to produce a sustainable and natural caviar using traditional production methods in the modern world.
In order to be a successful luxury entrepreneur what are three pieces of advice you would give?
Believe in yourself and your abilities. Trust your instincts on whether you are right or wrong about the opportunity, and if you believe you are right – never give up, but if you have doubts, move on – quickly!
What are the most important lessons you have learned along your journey?
Never to underestimate the competition, and to ensure your product is number one. Keep key staff close and involved as one day they may need to run the business, and a one man band can’t run itself.
What are the watch outs along the way?
Managing growth and cash flow at key sales periods of the year. Don’t let customers take advantage of you.
When you were started out who was your biggest inspiration? And what did they tell you that helped make you a success?
There were key individuals that significantly affected my thinking with only a few words of advice. ‘Stick to the knitting’ and ‘Don’t become a Management Butterfly’ were two pieces of advice I was given very early on in my career. I always understood this as ‘keep on doing what you are doing and don’t be distracted by other potential opportunities’ and ‘Don’t jump from project to project, and just make sure you complete the current project to the best of your ability’.
I have been lucky to meet several very successful people during my working life, of whom all have one thing in common, Its never about the money. Its about winning and loving what you do, especially the deal and creating something from nothing. One piece of key advice that has always stayed with me, was from Lord Ashcroft. He said ‘If you ever make 40 or some money, get a full (medical) MOT every year without fail – there’s no point in working and building a successful business when you can’t enjoy it and are six feet under’!