In very rare cases, an invention is so compelling, and its patent protection so strong, that inventors can make deals with manufacturers. That's one in a million or so. Use it to build a business, then you have value. Otherwise you're probably wasting your time and effort.
Tim Berry is the chairman of Eugene, Ore.-Palo Alto Software, which produces business-planning software. He founded Bplans.com and wrote The Plan-As-You-Go Business Plan, published by Entrepreneur Press. Berry is also a co-founder of HavePresence.com, a leader in a local angel-investment group and a judge of international business-plan competitions.