How to Quit the 9-5 Job for Your Side Hustle: Interview with Christen James

As part of my series of interviews with small business owners, this is my interview with the vivacious, purple-loving Christen N. James.


In this interview, Christen talks about leaving the corporate world to become a coach and how she helps other women leave their 9-5 job and become successful entrepreneurs!

Q: Could you introduce yourself and tell us about your business?

A: Everyone calls me CJ, the island girl that wears purple lipstick. I’m a Side-Hustle Coach, Podcaster and Reiki Healer. I’m a certified Life Skills Coach, Certified Master Mindset Coach with a BA in Psych and Certification in Solution-Focused Therapy. 


I help women-identified 9to5ers fulfill that deep desire to quit their j-o-b for their side hustle so they can be in control of their lives. 


They often deal with lack of confidence and fear of uncertainty and instability, especially coming from only knowing how to be an Employee. So we work together using my 3 pillars: Emotions, Mindset & Strategy to build their “Entrepreneur muscle” and go from having a Boss to BEING A BOSS. 


I also host The Shine to FIVE Method for Side Hustlers Podcast.

Q: What led you to start your business?

A: I knew that I didn’t want to be (or was meant to be) in a corporate setting for the entire working portion of my life, but I felt stuck because of the Employee Mindset (something that I now help my clients to break free of). 


When I decided that I HAD to make a change, I started talking about my departure with anyone that would listen, saying: “By the end of this year, I will be gone. I don’t know what that looks like, but it’s happening this year.” 


I started doing research and reconnecting with valuable contacts and even wished to be laid off. And then, about halfway through the year, it was announced that our department would be closing, and we would be receiving our severance packages. 


I couldn’t believe it! It has been THE best thing to happen to me, and the reassurance that I am now doing what I am MEANT to be doing because the Universe had conspired to make it happen. 


I declined another job offer and returned to school shortly after to start my own Coaching business. 

Q: How have you navigated any setbacks or obstacles in your business, and what did you learn from those experiences?

A: Entrepreneurship is as much about personal development as it is about professional growth. I have learned to appreciate setbacks as an opportunity to take a STEP BACK and re-evaluate my personal and business goals. 


This way I look at what’s working, what’s not and why so that I can find the necessary alignment between my Values and Goals and feel more connected to my results.

Q: How has social media & marketing played a role in your business so far?

A: I have been able to establish a strong brand identity that allows me to stand out. That allows me to find or attract my ideal clients and build relationships with them, so it’s easier to generate leads that convert into sales.

Q: Can you share any specific strategies that have been particularly effective for your business?

A: Creating a lead magnet to grow my email list and nurturing them through Email Marketing, Content Strategy mainly using social media platforms Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook, Targeted ads on Instagram to increase visibility, creating my own Digital Community to position myself in front of and be viewed as the thought leader to my ideal clients.

Q: What plans do you have for the future of your business?

A: A membership program for side hustle women to be able to have access to my coaching system The Shine to FIVE Method in order to develop the skills to become a confident Entrepreneur, and also break free of their Employee Mindset that keeps them feeling stuck at their 9to5. 


I will also be hosting events that feature other experts who can provide services in areas that are necessary for them to be successful entrepreneurs. 


I’ll also be working on a guided journal as well as a book that will provide side hustlers with tools they need to build on their business idea.

Q: What advice do you have for other small business owners who are just starting out?

A:  1. Find your “people”! Entrepreneurship is isolating, especially when starting out and it can get discouraging. Especially if you go from a corporate setting where you’re surrounded by others to working by yourself at home. In my opinion, it takes a village to grow a business. There is so much value in getting the objective feedback and insight from others that are as invested in your success as you are.


 2. Be ready and willing to take the downs with the ups. There is no such thing as “Failure,” just lessons, so reframe your thinking if/when something doesn’t go according to plan and evaluate what you can do differently.


 3. The definition of “Success” is different for each person. Define your success (what your life looks like when you are your most fulfilled) so you can work towards goals that are aligned with your Values.

You can follow CJ on Instagram @christennjames


Share this post to...
Helen Garfield
Helen Garfield

Helen Garfield is the founder of The Creatives Desk. She has worked in social media and digital marketing since 2010. Helen channels her passion for design and creativity to develop marketing templates and digital products that help small business owners create compelling content to drive growth in their online presence.