University of Wisconsin–Madison

Which Financial Management Class is Right for You?

The Small Business Development Center at UW-Madison offers several open-enrollment financial management classes to help you better educate yourself on financial management – the language of business. By understanding your business’ finances, you can be a better partner with your professional accountant, spot trends (and adjust your business practices accordingly!) more rapidly, and make educated decisions for the direction of your business.

Because successful financial management starts with understanding the basics of how your business will operate and how you will charge customers, we recommend starting with Biz Smart Sprint  or the Entrepreneurial Training Program (ETP) to develop some of these details.

Philosophy

At the UW-Madison Small Business Development Center, we believe in providing you with both the support and education you need to make educated decisions about your business and to allow you to envision long-term growth. Think of us as your advisors and partners. As such, we will:

  • Expand your thinking to include important next-step considerations for your business
  • Provide you with educational opportunities to build your knowledge base
  • Empower you to make confident decisions
  • Provide clear expectations about how you can make the partnership successful – and let you know when we are not well-suited to help

What financial management course is right for you?

Financial Management – Sprint! Intermediate Financial Management
Timing Offered in spring or early summer Offered in the fall
Time commitment & modality 7.5 hours of live virtual  instructional time. The course content is recorded, so you’ll have the opportunity to review a session. 14 hours of in-person instructional time. Course content is not recorded.
This course is best suited for those who… …are building their first financial models for their business

…already know – or have an educated guess about – your business’ financial model (how do you make money? do you charge by product, subscription, per hour, etc.?). Don’t have this? Consider taking Biz Smart Sprint or ETP

…may be uncomfortable with “the numbers side” of the business and are looking to increase familiarity with concepts and terminology

…are trying to build their financial vocabulary

are looking for an introduction to key financial concepts, or those who are looking to revisit these topics

…have recently taken on financial management support roles in their business, or who need a general understanding of financial management to be successful in their roles

…may use either a cash or accrual basis of accounting (customers receive invoice or pay on the spot)

…have some familiarity with seeing/reviewing “the numbers” but may not have had formal education

…likely use an accrual method of accounting (you invoice and collect payments from customers rather than requiring cash on the spot)

…are looking to learn or solidify financial concepts

…want to understand some basic financial analysis to improve decision-making

Business type and tenure
  • New business just getting started OR
  • Smaller or less complex business that does not require external funding (consultants, solopreneurs, service-based businesses that do not require extensive supplies or licensure)
  • Newer business looking to grow OR
  • Established business that may need clarification or cleanup
  • Businesses with more complexity (may include employees, inventory, or significant seasonality

These courses are not intended for:

  • Technical training (selecting, setting up, or troubleshooting accounting or purchasing software such as Quickbooks, Shopify, Square, etc.)
  • Tax advice or planning
  • Focus on specific accounting decisions
  • Detailed step-by-step accounting processes
  • Entrepreneurs looking to fully outsource bookkeeping/accounting processes (not recommended)

Both courses generally cover the following topics. The difference is the level of depth between them:

  • Financial statements (balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement) and why they are important
  • Accounting Systems and Processes (how to set up simple financial systems)
  • Using Financial Information to Make Operational Decisions (Sprint covers this topic at a broad, conceptual level, whereas our full financial management series provides more specific examples of how to analyze financial statements to make business decisions)
  • Pricing, Profit Planning, and Budgeting
    • Understand importance of business planning
    • Use financial tools to manage your resources
    • Understand basics of pricing a product or service using breakeven analysis
  • Cash Flow Planning and Management to help you weather seasonality and other changes in your cash position