How To Understand Financial Statements

  • Date: Nov. 29, 2018
  • Format: online
How To Understand Financial Statements provides self-paced instruction in how to read and interpret a balance sheet and an income statement, which is also called a profit and loss statement. The distinction between cash and accrual accounting and the calculation and meaning of seven of the most commonly used financial ratios are also part of this program. This knowledge is needed to enable business owners to make fact-based decisions. Questions can be answered and follow-on assistance provided by contacting the nearest Small Business & Technology Development Center. This program is offered in six modules, anyone completing all six modules and the course completion survey will receive a course completion certificate.
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 How To Understand Financial Statements

Course Developer

The course developer is a Business Development Field Specialist with the University of Missouri Extension's Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDCs).  The SBTDCs are a network of centers located in throughout the state on University of Missouri campuses and facilities, and on the campuses of other state universities.  Each center provides counseling, coaching, training, and specialized services for start-up and existing businesses.  If you have questions on the course's content, contact the center most convenient to your location.  Our centers can be found at Click on the local help icon for a listing of centers and contact information.

Course Description

The course is self-paced and consists of 6 modules, no module is more than 15 minutes in length. The entire self-paced course should take no more that 90 minutes, not including exercises. The exercises are self-evaluated. There are no graded activities, quizzes or other assessments. The purpose of course is strictly to provide information and knowledge. There are no prerequisite knowledge and competencies.
There is a course registration form to complete and a course completion survey. With the completion of the course, to include the registration and survey, a course completion certificate can be downloaded.

Course Objectives

By completing this course the student will be able to:

  • Identify and understand key business information on Profit and Loss Statements and Balance Sheets
  • Know how to calculate and use key Financial Ratios to make better business decisions

Course Organization

The six modules of this course are delivered in a lecture format. In addition to the course slides with speaker notes, there is a student workbook for note taking.  It also includes the case study and associated exercises.

Technical Requirements

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Additional Course Resources

Make sure to download this workbook for Understanding Financial Statements.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is fundamental to the activities and principles of a university. All members of the academic community must be confident that each person's work has been responsibly and honorably acquired, developed and presented. Any effort to gain an advantage not given to all students is dishonest whether or not the effort is successful. The academic community regards breaches of the academic integrity rules as extremely serious matters.

Statement on academic integrity

Intellectual Pluralism

The university community welcomes intellectual diversity and respects student rights. Students who have questions or concerns about the atmosphere in this class, including respect for diverse opinions, may contact the departmental chair or divisional director, the director of the Office of Academic Integrity, or the MU Office for Civil Rights and Title IX.

Statement on intellectual pluralism


If you anticipate barriers related to the format or requirements of this course, or if disability-related accommodations are necessary (for example, extended time on exams, materials in an alternate format), please notify your instructor or contact Customer Support


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