Am looking for some creativity on diligencing, structuring, proposing and executing an acquisition for an opportunity akin to that below. Using this scenario, perhaps this discussion could help future searchers who find themselves in a similar situation.

There's an off-market business owner who knows that he wants to sell the business, but says that he still has some things to clean up to make it attractive to a buyer. He knows the process, having purchased this business from the original owner over a decade ago. I see this kind of hesitation as an opportunity to help the seller achieve their ultimate goal, place myself as the leading candidate to buy the business, and build a meaningful relationship to enhance the company's success. I am considering:
-Potentially working in the business while performing diligence and shaping the future growth plan collaboratively
-I could also serve as a consultant by advising/executing the required systemization (I could take compensation either directly, as a reduction of future purchase price, or in equity should the company be sold)
-Pursuing a heavy earn-out structure (making the deal non-SBA) or employment agreement so that the current owner benefits from the company growth

Am open to thoughts on ways to get creative when hearing that the owner is on the verge of prepping a company for sale, as well as the inherent tradeoffs of those approaches.