The number of self-employed people in Northumberland has risen by 14 per cent since the financial crisis and now stands at 21,100, according to new figures.
The rise comes as experts at Business Debtline called for more support in tackling the advice gap for those starting out in self-employment.
New figures from the Office for National Statistics show an estimated 21,100 people in Northumberland were self-employed in 2014-15, equating to 14.8 per cent of the working population.
The total is up from 18,500 before the recession in 2007-08 as more and more people have turned to working for themselves.
The figures were highlighted by Business Debtline, the free debt advice service run by the Money Advice Trust, to warn of a worrying advice gap for people starting up their own business.
It says that many self-employed people get into difficulty because they started trading without the help needed to understand how to run a business and keep finances on track.
Visit www.businessdebtline.org or call 0800 197 6026.