With more people working fewer hours and with a resulting earnings gap to close, there's arguably never been a better time to set up a business. Whether it's to help make ends meet, or to follow your passion, or maybe even both, we've asked the experts to come up with practical and cheap ways to make some cash.
Our list may not be exhaustive, nor may it put you on the path to riches and early retirement, but hopefully it will get you thinking.
1 Antiques/collectibles dealing:
Know your stuff when it comes to certain kinds of collectibles? If so this can be a great way to make money from a hobby.
Trading sites such as eBay make it easier than ever to reach your target market, according to Trent Hamm, author of US money-saving blog, thesimpledollar.com. "I had some success with this myself in the past, trading cards and video games," he says.
If you can spare a few evenings and know any parents desperate to get out, there are few simpler ways to make some money.
3 Bed and breakfast:
Got a spare room? Live near somewhere of interest to tourists, or close to a student area? Note — you'll almost certainly need planning, mortgage lender and health and safety approvals first.
4 Biscuit/sweet making:
Homemade biscuits and confectionery can be a great seller, says Hamm. "Bake and package them well, and try reselling through a local gift shop. People in your social network may buy batches for special occasions."
5 Cake making/decorating:
If you enjoy baking and have an artistic touch, making and decorating cakes can be a really satisfying way of earning extra money. "One of my mother's old friends does this and makes quite a bit on the side," says Hamm.
6 Car boot sales:
This is a part-time occupation that increases earnings and broadens horizons as you make sales and get to travel, says Emma Jones, author of Working 5 to 9: How to Start a Successful Business in your Spare Time, and founder of the website enterprisenation.com.
"Consider selling specialist items and building a reputation for being the go-to person; offering your knowledge and expertise with the product can increase the price you're paid," she suggests.
7 Car cleaning/valeting:
Have a meticulous eye for detail and love to get things spotless? This could be a perfect side business for you. "Many people are quite happy to pay well for this service," points out Hamm.
This is more about producing and delivering good food. However, the organisational aspects may be easier after some instruction.
There's great potential to earn extra money from looking after kids, but you'll need to adore children (not just your own), have boundless energy and patience.
10 Computer repairer/ troubleshooter:
Despite the proliferation of technology in our lives, many people still find computers complicated to maintain and terrifying if they go wrong. If you have a reassuring manner and are not fazed by the inner workings of a PC, offer your services locally and let word-of-mouth do the rest. "I had some success doing this in the past," says Hamm.
11 Cosmetics sales:
This is very much a social business activity, so be prepared to spend lots of time meeting and talking to people. You'll be selling mainly by networking and often through parties in other people's homes, so an outgoing manner and immaculate personal presentation skills are essential.
12 Data entry:
Perhaps not the most thrilling of part-time pursuits, but can nevertheless offer an extremely steady (not to mention flexible) source of extra income. You generally get paid for the number of entries you make rather than by the hour, which means you can go back and forth to it when you get a spare few minutes.
13 Dinner preparation:
"I recently met a woman who earned quite a bit of money as a very part-time chef," says Hamm. "Once a week, she would go to someone's house and prepare a homemade meal for their family, then do all the dishes and cleaning up.
"This gives the family plenty of together time, while earning her some cash in hand."
If you love to cook, this can be a great extra earnings opportunity, but be prepared to put some effort into finding your customers.
14 Become a DJ:
It goes without saying that you need a deep love of music and an extensive collection of tunes before you can even consider DJing.
But as much of the work is at evenings and weekends, it could make a perfect side business.
Be ready to cater for a range of crowds and musical preferences, not just your passion. Learn the ropes by concentrating first on weddings and birthday parties or by doing roadie work for an established DJ, which will gain you useful contacts.
15 Be a doula:
Jasmine Birtles, the founder of website moneymagpie.com, says you can make between £12 (Dh70.80) and £15 an hour or £250-£500 for a birth by being a doula — a birth partner and post-birth partner. "If you've had a baby and you want to help new mothers, do a short course with Britishdoulas.co.uk and work locally," she says.
"You do what a grandmother or sister might do for a new mum, such as giving moral support, helping around the house, caring for the baby and supporting the whole family."
16 Flower arranging:
Imagine doing what you love and getting paid for it, which is what this idea brings to mind. "The nature of the product means you're likely to cater to a local audience, so why not impress with a business card and delivery car adorned with flower power," suggests Jones of enterprisenation.com. "It'll turn heads and attract new business as you turn corners."
17 Garage/garden sales:
"One person I know holds a garage sale at their house almost every weekend during summer," says Hamm. "They get a lot of regular customers who stop by almost every weekend to see what's on sale.
"That person then goes to neighbours and friends and offers to sell their stuff for them, splitting the proceeds. People are usually happy to do this since they can get rid of unwanted items and earn a bit of money, too."
18 Gardening services:
"I've had requests from others for people willing to do this, so the demand is out there," says Hamm. "To put it simply, some people are willing to pay others to get a vegetable or flower garden started so that they can have access to ultra-fresh produce without doing all the legwork."
19 Making greeting cards:
If you're the kind of person who loves making things, why not try your hand at cards? Ask a local shopkeeper what kind sells best and follow their advice, working to a distinctive style of your own.
Then try selling to family, friends and local businesses. Be mindful of material costs and time taken though, as wastage can be expensive in such a low-value product.
20 Handyman services:
Know your way round a toolbox? Let people know that they can call you for little repair jobs, relatively straightforward DIY tasks such as putting up shelves or assembling flat-pack furniture.
"You'd be amazed at the simple things people are willing to pay others to help them with," says Hamm.
21 Host and teach foreign students:
"This is a great way of renting your room without getting stuck with the flatshare from hell," says Birtles. "Foreign students don't usually stay longer than a couple of months at a time, so if they're annoying at least you know they'll go soon."
Usually the deal is B&B, but sometimes you need to give them an evening meal too. Get in touch with your nearest English language schools and let them know you have a room to rent, Birtles advises.
22 House cleaning:
"This is an idea you can start yourself, or consider being part of a house-cleaning franchise such as Molly Maid where you have the benefit of being your own boss as well as the support of a central team," says Jones.
23 Ironing/laundry services:
"Even in these cash-strapped times, some people hate ironing so much they're willing to pay others to do it (at least in the posh parts of town)," says Birtles of moneymagpie.com, who suggests either registering with domestic agencies or setting up your own local service.
"Check out the competition, see how much they charge, and undercut. Either work for an hourly rate, a fee per item or a fee per pound," she says. You should get between £8 and £12 per hour, between 50p and £1 per item or between 50p and £1 per lb of clothes, depending on where you work."
24 Jewellery selling:
Never mind Tupperware — if you have jewellery you no longer wear or want, try organising a party to sell it, says Jones. "Websites that organise these parties are going great guns in signing up ladies who want to earn extra income in their spare time," she says.
25 Knitting/alteration/sewing services:
A big growth area, as more people come to appreciate the value in repairing and patching up clothes. If you're handy with a sewing machine, there's serious money to be made. Once you get known locally, word-of-mouth should do the rest.
26 Leaflet distributing:
Delivering leaflets to people's houses could be a profitable and healthy way to spend a few spare hours a week. Call into your local shops and restaurants to see if they need help distributing flyers, menus and so on.
27 Musical performance:
If you can play a musical (especially orchestral) instrument to a high enough standard, know a few choice solo pieces and look presentable, spread the word locally — weddings and other formal functions can be a lucrative source of performance income.
29 Online trading:
Sites such as eBay and Amazon make it easy for people to dabble in e-commerce. "Start with a clearout of your attic," suggests Dan Wilson, author of Make Serious Money on eBay.
"If you start to sell other goods, focus on things you can get hold of easily, or are passionate about.
"And have an eye on the Christmas market: think about what will be selling well in a few months' time."
30 Personal organiser/assistant:
If you are good at filing and managing tasks, and know someone who isn't, why not offer to share your expertise with them for a small consideration?
Being organised is a valuable skill, and whether it's for a small company or a friend there may be more of a market for this than meets the eye. Ask around friends or look on listings websites including gumtree.com.
31 Personal shopping:
"This is an idea that nicely taps into our desire for personal service," says Jones. "There's also potential to niche this business, for example focusing on time-starved ladies.
"Making it niche brings down marketing costs and increases customer loyalty."
32 Personal tutoring:
If you are a part-time teacher or are perhaps taking a career break to look after young children, this can be a great way to make a little money while keeping your syllabus knowledge up to date. Try advertising locally.
33 Pet grooming:
"Many people loathe bathing their pets and trimming their hair — I know I do," says Hamm. "Pet groomers can do this for a small fee — a perfect job for a person who loves dogs and cats."
34 Pet minding/walking:
"Dog-walking is a fantastic earner if you love animals and enjoy the outdoors," says Birtles. Offer pet-minding as well and you can make a whole business out of it. "You'll need public liability insurance in case something happens to the dogs or members of the public," she warns.
35 Online referrals expert:
There's money to be made from your e-mail address book: a surprising number of companies will pay you if you can persuade your friends to become their customers.
36 Rent out your stuff:
You can rent pretty much anything now, although space is still the most profitable "item", says Birtles. "Rent your driveway on parkatmyhouse.com if you live somewhere popular, or your possessions from a baby bath to your lawnmower on sites like rentnotbuy.co.uk and Zilok," she advises.
"Currently there are more items on offer than requests to lease things, but it's worth a try."
37 Selling ad space on a personal blog:
This is not a big money-earner to start with, but could be if you work at it, reckons Birtles. "Set up your own blog (do it for free with blogger.com) and fill it with great writing, photos, videos and anything else you're passionate about," she advises.
"Get ads automatically through Google Adsense and make a few pence every time someone clicks on an ad."
Do book reviews and make money selling the books through Amazon's affiliate programme.
38 Scrapbook making:
Many people dream of having beautiful scrapbooks, says Hamm. "They collect all the materials they want to go in them, but never follow through on the actual creation. You can step in here — take their ideas and materials and assemble a scrapbook for them."
39 Selling lost luggage:
Auction houses round the country routinely sell off lost luggage that the airlines have failed to match with their owners. "For example, Greasby's in south London sells off BA's lost items every week," points out Birtles.
"You bid blind on bags that have had the expensive stuff removed (cameras, iPods etc) and then sell the bag and contents on eBay or at a car boot sale. Bags generally go for between £5-£50. Your profit depends on what's in them!"
If you are fluent in a second language, translation services are in demand as UK companies look overseas for new sales. But be warned: it's a serious business and you'll need professional qualifications from an accredited body (such as the Institute of Translation and Interpreting or the Chartered Institute of Linguists) and professional indemnity insurance before setting up.
"Once qualified, register with translation sites such as lingo24.com and language123.com and grow from there," suggests Jones.
41 "Ugly" modelling:
If you look, shall we say, different, you could make money in ads, photoshoots or appearances through the Ugly model agency. "People with phenomenal tattoos, piercings or just very "interesting" faces can make thousands doing commercials, videos or corporate appearances," says Birtles.
42 Vegetable growing:
If you have some suitable garden space and the requisite green fingers, focus on one vegetable and sell the excess to local greengrocers and at farmers' markets. "My father does this with tomatoes and earns some solid extra money in the summer," says Hamm.
43 Virtual assistant:
"Many ultra-busy professionals appreciate having someone who can check and answer their e-mail, organise task lists for them, update their calendars and so on, with minimal interaction," says Hamm. "You can provide this service from home with a good internet connection."
44 Website designing:
An increasingly competitive field as the software needed becomes more and more mainstream. However if you have a good eye for design generally and formal training, it can be a profitable side business.
45 Wedding/social photographer:
You'll need a website or blog to showcase your work, but if you're confident that your photography is good enough, there's no reason why you can't do wedding/function work professionally.
Do your homework though — you'll need to take charge of arranging people into groups and know all the classic poses expected of the occasion.
46 Wedding planning:
If you're one of those people who can't help but flip through bridal magazines and daydream about nuptial arrangements, this might be perfect for you. "A great way to get started is to develop a website on the topic, get to know people on-line and offer your services to the community," says Hamm.
47 Writing letters to magazines:
You can make between £10-£200 for a good letter or photograph to a weekly magazine such as Take a Break or Pick Me Up, suggests Birtles. "If you have a really juicy story you can make even more, and you don't even have to write it," she says. Women's magazines particularly are usually desperate for items for their letters' pages, and even quite tame stuff often gets in.