You know you need to marshal the power of the written word, but you worry that an email might get lost in a sea of messages. And a text? Same issue. If you've got a bit of time on your side, follow your best instincts and send a letter. In an age when people are in a hurry to communicate, the recipient will know that you took the time to gather your thoughts and to assign them to paper. You can harness the purposeful, attention-getting nature of letter writing as you go about your life as a small business owner.

Write a Letter to Be Authoritative

You can safely assume that you've achieved part of your objective when the recipient sees the return address on the envelope, and opens it, eager to read the contents. Score one point for the small business owner. Write a letter any time you wish to assert your authority and credibility – as if you're saying between the lines, “I mean business; now listen up.”

Examples include an announcement letter, an agreement, a fundraising letter, an inquiry, a policy change and rejection letters. Even promotional and sales letters can (and should) be authoritative in nature -- which has nothing to do with the tone, but has everything to do with the seriousness that you hope the recipient picks up from the letter.

Write a Letter to Serve as Documentation

Even before you became a small-business owner, you probably were asked to write a letter to verify something you may have communicated in person or by phone. These types of letters supply proof, and they may form a paper trail if it's possible that some type of conflict is on the horizon. All business letters should be signed, and documentation letters, if not signed, will impart next to no value.

Examples of documentation letters include authorization, complaint, decline, order, proposal and tax letters. “Letters of intent” can run the gamut from an intent to purchase to an intent to pursue litigation, are also in this category.

Write a Letter to Serve as Part of a Record

When you're mindful that your words (and actions) will affect the future and may be revisited over time for verification, it's definitely time to write a letter. You should retain a copy of every letter you write, but letters that have quasi-permanent value deserve even more careful treatment; you may need to retrieve and resend them, if the recipient or an interested third party misplaces them. Although most business letters are distinguished by their brevity, these types of letters are likely the quickest to write. They may not be sweet, but they're usually short.

Examples include certification, collection, contract, donation, grievance, permission, recommendation, reference, resignation, retirement, termination and warning letters.

Write a Letter to Show You Care

If you can imagine the recipient tacking your letter to a bulletin board or refrigerator – to read and reread again – then it's a good sign that an event has occurred or an occasion is taking place that demands an additional attention. Burnish the goodwill by adding a handwritten “P.S.” at the end of your letter.

Examples include appreciation, business anniversary, condolence and congratulatory letters.

Write a Letter to Demonstrate Class

Your ancestors might chuckle at the notion of letter writing being called a classy undertaking. But then, they tended to be active scribes who didn't have anywhere near as many modes of communication. Next to texting instant messages, texting messages and writing emails, letters have risen in stature and respectability. Since letters are not as common as they once were, they can even trigger envy in people who do not receive them.

Examples include apology, farewell, introduction, thank you and welcome letters.