A new cash-forecasting software tool called the Small Business Workbench is designed to take the intuition and guesswork out running a small or medium-sized business.

The tool combines data on how much cash is flowing into and out of the business to let owners and managers know how much money they’ll have at their disposal in the coming days, weeks and months, says James Good, assistant general manager of the maker, Small Business Payments Co.

“A lot of these guys are staying up Sunday night after they put the kids to bed, trying to figure out if they can meet the payroll next week,” says Good.

Up to 40% of the startups that fail have not paid enough attention to managing working capital, he maintains.

The tool also helps merchants determine when they can make capital investments without running short of funds for day-to-day operations, says Casey LeLoux, CEO of Convenient Payments LLC, a payments gateway and ISO with offices in Fremont, Calif.

“For a small or medium-sized business, that’s huge,” LeLoux says.

Offering the tool to merchants will set ISOs apart from their competitors, he notes.

“I saw it as a great differentiator,” LeLoux says of the product.

His company, Convenient Payments, is a subsidiary of U.S. Merchant Systems, a firm in which EVO Payments International owns a 25% stake.

Convenient Payments is the first ISO to offer the service, and the maker is negotiating with two others to begin promoting it, says Good. His company is seeking ISOs of all sizes to promote the product.

LeLoux plans to provide the Workbench at no cost to the first few merchants to use it and then begin charging about $10 a month to subsequent users, he says.

ISOs can also charge merchants $20 to $40 a month for a suite of Workbench apps, Good says. The company is starting with three or four apps for functions like invoicing, inventory and payroll, and it plans to add a new app each month. It intends to create some of the apps and obtain others from outside developers. Besides providing their own value, the apps improve the accuracy of the cash-forecasting tool.

When a new app becomes available, ISOs and agents have a reason to call or visit their merchants to tell them about it. That contact helps cement relationships, LeLoux maintains.

Promoting the Workbench and apps can even help ISOs and agents form relationships with merchants that under contract elsewhere for merchant services, LeLoux notes.

Then, when the merchant’s contract with another provider expires, the ISO can add transaction services to the Workbench services, he suggests.

“It’s a lot easier when you have that warm relationship and don’t have to make cold calls or knock on doors,” LeLoux says.

The company behind the product, Small Business Payments Co., has headquarters in California, but its origins are in Canada. It’s owned by Interac, which administers Canada’s debit card system.

It decided to introduce the Workbench in the United States first because it’s a much larger market than Canada. Plans call for offering it later in Canada.

Merchants can set up the system in 30 to 60 minutes, with the number of questions varying to suit different businesses.

The product’s available as a white-label offering that enables ISOs to brand it with their own names and graphics. LeLoux, however, liked the maker’s presentation well enough that he decided to use it instead of customizing the program.

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