Characteristics of Texts, Part 2

Read the following two passages about starting a business, noting what they have in common and where they differ.

Passage #1: “Making a Profit”

For-Profit Businesses

An organization that aims to earn profit through its operations and is concerned with its own interests and not those of the public (non-profit) is known as a for-profit corporation.


A for-profit cooperation is usually an organization operating in the private sector that sets goals which eventually help the organization itself. This kind of a company often makes shares of ownership available to the general public. The purchasers of those shares then become the company’s shareholders; shareholders have bought a portion of ownership of the corporation by giving away a certain amount of money (differentiating from company to company) or assets of a particular value. Such organizations are usually not aided by the government, as they are working for private financial gains, unlike a non-profit organization, which exists to serve a mission. The nature of a for-profit corporation is such that it is required to pay applicable taxes and register with the state. Any donation they receive will also be subject to the tax policies of the concerned country. As these organizations are all corporations and have a separate identity from their owners the owners are not in their personal capacity required to satisfy any debts which the company might owe to anyone.


Unlike non-profit organizations, the policies of these organizations are usually profit oriented. Managers (corporate employees) here have a profit-oriented mindset and aim at maximizing the revenue of the firm, which in turn contributes to the profits of the shareholders/owners. Their aim can be accompanied by a goal of serving the society; however, that usually happens only in cases of specific corporations (B-corporations, which we’ll learn about later).

Non-Profit Businesses

Some organizations are not established solely for the purpose of making and retaining profit; however, they function in much the same way as a business. They establish goals and work to meet them in an effective, efficient manner. Thus, most of the business principles introduced in this text also apply to non-profits. Let’s take a look at some of the characteristics of the non-profit organization.

A non-profit business, often referred to as an NPO (non-profit organization),  is an organization that uses its surplus revenues to further achieve its purpose or mission, rather than distributing its surplus income to the organization’s directors (or equivalents) as profit or dividends. This is known as the distribution constraint. The decision to adopt a non-profit legal structure is one that will often have taxation implications, particularly where the non-profit seeks income tax exemption, charitable status and so on.

Passage #2: “The Ant King: A California Fairy Tale”

Sheila split open and the air was filled with gumballs. Yellow gumballs. This was awful for Stan, just awful. He had loved Sheila for a long time, fought for her heart, believed in their love until finally she had come around. They were about to kiss for the first time and then this: yellow gumballs.

Stan went to a group to try to accept that Sheila was gone. It was a group for people whose unrequited love had ended in some kind of surrealist moment. There is a group for everything in California.

After several months of hard work on himself with the group, Stan was ready to open a shop and sell the thousands of yellow gumballs. He did this because he believed in capitalism, he loved capitalism. He loved the dynamic surge and crash of Amazon’s stock price, he loved the great concrete malls spreading across America like blood staining through a handkerchief, he loved how everything could be tracked and mirrored in numbers. When he closed the store each night he would count the gumballs sold, and he would determine his gross revenue, his operating expenses, his operating margin; he would adjust his balance sheet and learn his debt-to-equity ratio; and after this exercise each night, Stan felt he understood himself and was at peace, and he could go home to his apartment and drink tea and sleep, without shooting himself or thinking about Sheila.

On the night before the IPO of, Sheila came to Stan in a dream. She was standing in a kiddie pool; Stan and his brothers and sisters were running around splashing and screaming; she had managed to insert herself into a Super 8 home movie of Stan’s family, shot in the late seventies. She looked terribly sad.

“Sheila, where are you?” Stan said. “Why did you leave me, why did you become gumballs?”

“The Ant King has me,” Sheila said. “You must rescue me.”

Stan woke up, he shaved, he put on his Armani suit, and drove his Lexus to his appointment with his venture capitalists and investment bankers. But the dream would not leave him.

. . .

“Gumballs are more than candy, isn’t that right, Stan?” said Monique, smiling broadly.

Stan nodded. His feet were still wet, inside his argyle socks. “Yes, gumballs have a lot of, ah, a lot greater significance than just candy.”

Monique paused and looked at Stan brightly, waiting for him to go on. Across the table, the three Credit Suisse First Boston underwriters—Emilio Toad, Harry Hornpecker, and Moby Pfister—sat stone-faced and unreacting in their gray double-breasted suits.

Stan tried to remember the business plan. “They have hard shells,” he said. “People, ah, they want challenge . . . the hardness, the gumminess . . .”

Monique broke in smoothly. Monique, all seven post-gender-reassignment-surgery feet of her; Monique, always dressed to the nines and tens; Monique was a Valley legend for her instincts, her suavity, her rapacious, exemplary greed. Stan had sold Monique on the idea of, and she had invested—found him the right contacts, the right team—and here they were at the Big Day, the Exit Strategy.

“Stan!” she cried joyously, fixing him with a penetrating stare. “Don’t be shy! Tell them about how gumballs are sex! Tell them about our top-gun semiotics professors, tell them about gumballs as a cultural trope! You see,” she said, swooping onto Hornpecker, Pfister & Toad, “you can’t think of this as a candy thing, a food & bev thing, a consumer cyclic thing; no way, José! Think Pokémon. Think World Wide Wrestling. Think Star Wars!”

“Could we get back to the numbers,” said Emilio Toad in a voice that sounded like a cat being liquefied in an industrial-strength mixer. The gray faces of Harry Hornpecker and Moby Pfister twitched in relief.


Question 1

Which of these passages did you enjoy reading more? Why?


Question 2

What differences between the two passages stand out to you? Type these differences here.


Question 3

What similarities in the passages are apparent to you? Type these similarities here.


Question 4

Both passages here are excerpts from longer works. Which of these would you want to keep reading to

  1. gain a deeper understanding of business practices?
  2. learn about one of the more unique business start-ups in a fictional setting?
  3. be entertained?
  4. be well-informed?