Two-thirds of business owners and entrepreneurs over 55 said they had no desire to retire and would “never stop” working, according to research from Hitachi Capital Business Finance.

Asked why, more than two-thirds (67%) of those planning to work past the legal age of retirement said this was because they loved their jobs, rather than out of necessity.

The results showed that those over 55 were more likely to say they would never stop working than any other age group, as well as being more likely to say this was out of choice.

By contrast, across all age groups, only 39% planned to work past 65, while just one in six (16%) planned to work into their 70s.

The research also found that a large proportion of business owners aged over 55 had no clear long-term plans for the business. A quarter (25%) admitted they simply did not know what they would do, while almost half (47%) said they would close the business on retirement.

A smaller proportion (15%) had plans to sell the business, and only one in eight (12%) had plans to pass it down to their children or to other partners in the business.

According to the Office for National Statistics, people are living longer, with the average life expectancy at birth in the UK rising to 79.9 for men and 83.6 for women.

Joanna Morris, head of marketing and insight at Hitachi Capital Business Finance, said: “For many people who have set up a business – spending an entire career developing and nurturing it into the enterprise that it is today – the idea of doing anything else may seem quite alien.

“Seventy is no longer considered old, with many of today’s so-called retirees being healthier, living longer and retiring at different ages. The wealth of knowledge and experience that they bring is of enormous benefit to a company, particularly at this time of uncertainty.

“While this is great news, what is a concern is that such a large proportion have not thought of what will happen in the long term. The reality is that for a business to achieve significant growth, there needs to be a detailed plan in place.”

Other research from Hitachi Capital Business Finance has revealed the challenges faced by single parents who set up their own businesses.

It found that single-parents business owners worked an hour-and-a-half more than the average business owner. In fact, only entrepreneurs with more than one business and ex-military business owners put in more hours. Single parents worked longer hours than the average family-run business, and almost five hours a week longer than the average female business owner.

Overall, 63% of single-parent business owners worked more than the standard 35-hour week, slightly more than the national average of 60%, and they worked on average a 36-hour week, compared with 35 hours a week on average for business owners, full-time and part-time combined.

One in 10 said they worked a 50-hour week, while 4% said they did a 60-hour week.