But Ohio likely has a smaller portion self-employed workers than other states because of the nature of its economy and industries, said Shane, with Case Western. Ohio is heavily dependent on some industries of scale, including auto and steel production, where self-employment is often impossible.
"When you have a lot of the workforce in jobs like that, you are less likely to have self-employed people than you are if you have a lot of people, say, in ranching," he said. "A big part of what drives these numbers is industry composition."
Ohio's largest industries include health care and social assistance and retail trade -- where self-employment accounts for less than 4 percent of jobs -- and manufacturing, where it accounts for less than 1.5 percent of jobs.
"You can't really be self-employed (in heavy manufacturing because of) the start-up costs, the capital and the infrastructure it takes," said Joshua Wright, senior editor with Economic Modeling.
In Ohio, the long-term job outlook for the self-employed is not strong.
The Ohio Bureau of Labor Market Information -- which uses different estimates of the self-employed -- predicts that self-employed and unpaid family workers will fall to 291,700 workers in 2020 from 299,550 in 2010.
"Between 2010 and 2020, we are projecting an employment decline of 2.6 percent," said Lewis Horner, section chief of workforce research with the bureau.
But officials stress that entrepreneurship is alive and thriving in Ohio, even if the state's largest industries are not best-suited for one-person business ventures.
Jay Nigro, 28, of Dayton, owns and operates Liftoff Entertainment, which provides DJ and photo booth services for weddings and other events. He said he decided to go into business for himself after he graduated in May from the University of Dayton with a master's degree in business administration.
Nigro said he likes being in charge of business decisions, such as how to grow his company and find clients.
"I like being my own boss and having the flexibility to do what I want when I want," he said. "I can model this to be the business I want."