Walt thought I was crazy. In 20 months, he had gone from being head of a small $7.5 million (sales) medical development business to manager of the chemical and metallurgical division, one of GE’s biggest and most profitable businesses, with $500 million in sales.

Hi, there. The sentences above are an excerpt from the book Jack: Straight from the Gut by Jack Welch. I have looked up the meaning of "business" in several dictionaries. It seems that "business" is a countable noun only when it means "company". Longman Dictionary

But from the excerpt, "businesses" here doesn't mean "companies", which makes me really confused. Besides, does these two "business" in the excerpt mean the same?


Business can only be a countable known if it is referring to a company like you said.

In your extract, both of the words are referring to company.

The first business is referring to his small medical development company.

The second businesses also means company. It is talking about his chemical and metallurgical division which is one of GE’s biggest and most profitable companies.

In simple terms the paragraph is saying that this person in 20 months, went from a small medical development companyto a manager of the chemical and metallurgical division, which is one of the GE’s biggest and profitable companies

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Yes, they mean the same. What made you think that they differ? Read carefully the definition that you have linked.


an organization such as a company, shop, or factory that produces or sells goods or provides a service

Let's simplify

an organization that produces or sells goods or provides a service

Company, shop or factory are examples of business. Two business does not imply mandatorily two different companies. Imagine two McDonald restaurants, they belong to the same company but they can be represented as two different business, each one with a specific list of employees.

The Chemical and Metallurgical Division seems to be a branch of the GE Company. Each branch can be represented as a business because they presumably provide different services, it only depends on the granularity that you need.

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