Ninety-eight percent of all businesses in New York State have less than 100 employees. Fifty-four percent of the workforce is employed by those small businesses.

For many wanting to become a small business owner in New York, there is one major hurdle: taxes. To remedy the pressure of founding a new business financially, there's a growing collection of businesses co-located and helping each other out in Central New York.

It was an amazing start to what would become Wildflowers Armory and McCarthy Mercantile, a pop-up shop that invited other small businesses to operate within it.

“We sold tens of thousands of dollars worth of products in a pop up shop in a few weeks,” said Wildflowers Armory and McCarthy Mercantile co-founder Michael John Heagerty. “From bath and body, to prints, to handmade artwork and candles — everything in here is made by someone from Central New York.”

Wildflowers Armory and McCarthy Mercantile has transitioned to a logistics company with a major footprint in Central New York. While it still specializes in promoting local business, this time of year they have taxes on the brain.

“I've been doing it for years and seeing all the different changes and hurdles that come to a small business. When you have to wear all the hats, you can sometimes get almost intimidated or feel like you know you're different or have to work harder to do your taxes for being such a small side hustle,” said Heagerty.

Heagerty’s small business venture is now an incubator of sorts. Among the businesses in the lower McCarthy Mercantile is vintage clothes and merchandise shop Cherry Pit.

“I wanted something more permanent and so did the other women that work here,” said Cherry Pit co-founder Abigail Minicozzi.

Co-owners like Minicozzi now operate under the Wildflowers umbrella and get help beyond sales as needed, especially when it comes to the daunting task of administrative work, like taxes.

“It's definitely new, like sales tax and all that stuff... really scary,” she added. “But I definitely know that any of the businesses here I can reach out to, and especially Michael, so it's good to know that that everyone here is in the same position having a small business.”

Heagerty has seen the growth from his original pop-up venture, saying he needed to "get real" about working with firm accountants as they transitioned from just sales to support.

“At one point in time we had online sales only during the pandemic and it was a nightmare because every single different area and county and state has different taxes,” said Heagerty.

As someone who’s still growing a business and seeing success, Heagerty wants to encourage potential business owners. He says it's all about drive, research and community.

"Having that kind of educational format and the collective pooling of resources will always be our play. That's what Wildflowers is all about,” Heagerty added.