As many of you will recall, I kicked off the business planning team project on January 19 for ORBA members. The purpose of the project is to help members learn the fundamentals of good business planning and to put those principles into practice by creating a plan. About eight ORBA members developed strategies, which I helped to edit, and implemented the finalized plans into their businesses on March 1.

Fellow ORBA members will monitor their progress. The group will discuss results each quarter and a yearly assessment will be done at the end of December. In this way, the members who joined the project will have some solid experience with developing a plan, refining it, and implementing it. They will also share their insights with other members of the team, giving them more opportunities to learn from each other. I will be posting the plans in a separate section of the ORBA Web site, which is available only to the planning project team members.

If you’d like to take the “How to Develop a Business Plan” Webinar, it’s available on demand to ORBA members. Simply go to the Webinar section of the ORBA Web site and click on the link for this course. The system will take just a few seconds to load some software before the session will begin to play.

ORBA partnered with the Opticians Association of Virginia to help them put on a Webinar titled, “Am I Legal?” Presented by past president and current Virginia State Board of Opticians Board Member Robert Flippin, the session used a “question and answer” format to bring out various points of the law, national standards, and regulations as they pertain to the practice of opticianry in Virginia. As the moderator, I noticed the attendees asked a host of questions, so many that the session ran 30 minutes longer than its planned one hour.

Jon Bright, also a current Virginia State Board of Opticians Member, acted as a resource person and secondary presenter. In addition, Michelle Nelms, Opticians Association of Virginia’s executive director, was part of the session. Judging from the magnitude and diversity of questions, it was clear that the attendees were enthusiastic about the meeting.

This Webinar is also available on-demand. Go to the Opticians Association of Virginia Web site ( and click on the course link. It will be available for about a year electronically to those opticians practicing in Virginia.

If you’re like most people, you made a few New Year’s resolutions. In talking to a number of ORBA members, one of those resolutions was to be more active with ORBA in 2011. While activity is up, it’s not up as much as it could be. Let me encourage you to be an active part of ORBA. It’s your organization and it’s working to help you not just survive, but to thrive in a marketplace that has been less than friendly to independent opticianry. ORBA can bring you a variety of programs, but you have to participate. Take the Webinars, get on the blog and share your ideas, read the documents posted in the Resource section, etc. Even with over 125 members, ORBA will only be strong when its members get involved.

Not an ORBA member yet? Why not join?!

Ed De Gennaro is Director, Professional Content of First Vision Media Group and Executive Director of ORBA.

Optical Retail Business Alliance (ORBA)
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