Many small business owners are unprepared for retirement, with a third of the women and a quarter of the men in a new survey having no estimate of how much they will need when they retire.

The survey, by the American College, a nonprofit educational institution devoted to financial services, found that while 66 percent of the women and 70 percent of the men said they had developed an estimate of their retirement needs, only half of these individuals have done so with the assistance of a financial professional.

A quarter of the survey participants used online calculators, which often have serious limitations in adequately projecting changes in inflation, taxes, medical expenses and income streams. The remainder of the survey respondents arrived at an estimate by performing simple calculations on their own using pencil and paper.

“The lack of retirement planning by so many people is stunning, especially since business owners have no one else to rely on when it comes to putting their retirement plans in place,” said Mary Quist-Newins, director of the State Farm Center for Women and Financial Services at The American College. “When you consider that the mean age of our respondents is just over 50 you have to wonder, 'What are these individuals waiting for?' Retirement will be upon them before they know it. Small business owners need to start preparing for retirement now.”

Even for the small business owners who have calculated their retirement goals, most do not have a formal plan to achieve their financial objectives. Among the small business owners surveyed, 77 percent of the women and 74 percent of the men have no written plan for retirement.

Cost of living is a major issue for many small business owners planning for retirement. The main concerns of roughly four in 10 of the small business owners surveyed were increases in the cost of living, higher health care costs, and the ability to maintain their current quality of life.

Only 37 percent of the women and 38 percent of the men think their retirement planning needs are complex, suggests a potentially dangerous tendency to oversimplify an increasingly complicated financial planning situation that needs to account for inflation, medical expenses, longevity and asset management as well as the accumulation and distribution of income, long-term care and tax management.

While just over half of the small business owners who were surveyed reported being concerned about maximizing the value of their business to help fund retirement, only 10 percent of the women and 20 percent of the men polled had a written plan to transition their business upon retirement.

Michael Cohn writes for Accounting Today.