Focus in order to be a successful investor that you absolutely need to know what type of property of what size, age and condition you are looking for and what you intend to do to add value once you buy it. It is basically a case of Focus or Fail. If you look at every property on the market and are cruising Loop Net for hours looking for a "good deal". You are totally wasting your time. These flies in the face of what many Residential Real Estate Investors were taught when they were buying single family houses.
First, everything starts with motivated sellers and locating potential deals. Having steady stream-not spurts-of motivated sellers and potentials deals coming across your desk on a daily basis is THE part of your business that you ought to spend a significant amount of time, energy and money on. Without it, all the other parts of your plan are worthless.
Second, once you have a steady stream of motivated sellers coming to you, you need a way to pre-screen the deals to identify quickly which ones are worth pursuing and which ones you should politely decline on. Knowing what makes a deal for you is going to be critical in this part of your plan. It is near impossible to sort through motivated seller leads unless you know what passes and what fails your own criteria.
Third, once you have a pile of deals to consider and deals to pass on, you will need to go through the deals to consider and actually make and present offers. Oddly enough, I know many folks that find potential deals, sort them into deals and non-deals but never quite get up the nerve to create and present an offer. You've got to be able to create an offer that works for you (or, as I recommend, several offers) and present it, preferably in person.
Fourth, I know this may sound hard to believe but not every one of your offers will be accepted so you will need to follow up with the offers that you've made. In fact, if a very high percentage of your offers are being accepted, I am going to suggest that you're offering too much. Finding the balance of what is a reasonable percentage of offers that get accepted takes experience and you'll only get that by making a lot of offers.