Re: jake & AC
I mean strike out on your own. But at first, keep your day-job while stacking the deck in your favo(u)r. Don't talk about what you are trying to do with your cow-orkers ... but *do* see if you can get your existing employer to pay for some of it. Be discrete. Claim you are trying to move up within the company.
Take a couple adult/night courses at an accredited (Jr.) University or Poly. Management 101, SOHO 101, Economics 101 ... Talk to a career counselor about what you are trying to do, s/he will be able to point you in the right direction, according to the courses/classes available in your neck of the woods. The object here isn't to become a manager, but rather to manage a small business. This will be enough to set up a brick & mortar store-front and pitch your offerings to local small businesses.
If you want to make big money, get an MBA. It won't help your IT ability, but it'll get your bid on Fortune 1500 company contracts read rather than filed in the circular file ... I hold an IT-related Doctorate, but I just use the MBA after my name when bidding on Fortune 500 jobs ;-)
One other thing I put on the contract bids: My CA Contractor's License Number ... If you want to design and implement largish data centers, get a General Contractor's license ("Main Contractor" in blighty, I think). Here in California, I'm a CSLB licensed contractor (A, B and various Cs, a couple Ds). Why? Because I got tired of over-paying contractors when (re)building data centers.
It sounds daft on the surface, but honestly, the MBA and CSLB License have opened more, and bigger doors into IT work than any of my engineering degrees that are related to IT ... Is it an easy solution? No. But once you've done it, it's done. The journey of 1,000 miles begins with but a single footstep.
Don't get me wrong ... I use the general engineering and IT specific degrees on a daily basis. I couldn't do this at this level without them. But even without those degrees, I'm fairly certain that in the right hands, an MBA and CSLB license coupled with your 20+ years in the trenches would combine for a yearly income that most "senior level managers" could only dream of.
 Whatever that means.