Handmade marketplace Etsy doesn't just shape the craft blogosphere. In the near future, it may also shape US federal policy.

CEO Chad Dickerson visited Washington, D.C. to speak at a Senate committee meeting. Addressing an audience of 17 Senate Democrats at the Steering and Outreach Committee Friday, Dickerson urged legislators to think of the Etsy community as a model for small business policy.

Unlike previous concepts of small business entrepreneurs, Dickerson said, most Etsians don’t plan to expand to a payroll of 50 employees as they grow. Instead, they use their small size and Etsy’s online tools in order to reach a global marketplace as quickly as possible.

“Platforms like Etsy are injecting income directly into households, through the empowering opportunity to create a business with a few clicks of a mouse,” he told them.

In the Etsy forums Monday, Dickerson gave the community an early preview of his thoughts on the committee meeting. He said he’ll post his public impressions “sometime this week.”

“My only goal in speaking there was to make sure the Senators understood two things: 1) how important the contribution you all make is to the US (and world) economy and 2) the opportunities that an Internet platform like Etsy creates for people like you,” he wrote. “Altogether, 17 Senators heard the message. I'm going to continue telling that story far and wide.”

Some community members were confused by Dickerson’s phrasing to the Committee that Etsians made their businesses run with just a “few clicks of a mouse.” Since becoming Etsy CEO in July 2011, Dickerson is still working to gain sellers’ trust, and each of his slip-ups are carefully noted.

“Was he trying to say it's easy to run a business?” FrancescasFancy asked.

Dickerson said he used the phrase to contrast Etsy with more complicated business models.

“The ‘few clicks of a mouse’ phrase was intended to illustrate how relatively simple it is to set up a shop on Etsy compared to some of the other very complex businesses that were presenting at the same session—large-scale clothing manufacturers, metal fabricators, pharmaceutical companies, and others that require millions (if not billions) just to get started.”

Dickerson’s role at the committee meeting was to present a different type of business model that relies on the Internet more than an angel investment. He said he hopes consideration of Etsy’s tens of thousands of small business owners will help the Senate to reframe just how small they consider “small businesses” when shaping policy.

Photo via Etsy