Hi Searchfunder community:

I have been speaking to a business owner who would like to sell me his business but suggested that I first work alongside him as a "highly compensated employee" to learn the business and ensure that there is a mutual fit. Implied here is that we would have a time and/or event-bound agreement to consummate the sale (not exactly sure how/if something like that would work).

Until now, I have been mentally preparing to buy a company with the standard LOI through Closing process in mind. In that scenario, the knowledge sharing would occur while the seller stayed on for a few weeks or months before largely stepping away. I had not considered a pre-sale "test drive" approach until now.

I am a bit hesitant to quit my salaried employment to become an employee at another company, but I can also see the benefit of first being in the company without having to risk my and investors' capital.

Does anyone have experience with something like this? Is there a way to structure it so I gain assurance that I can ultimately buy the business on terms we agree to up-front and he gains the confidence that I am the right person to run the company? Or is it better to do this the regular way with some guardrails written into a seller note agreement (for example)?