This paper contributes to existing research by integrating the notions of opportunity recognition and international entrepreneurial orientation into the body of the new venture theory of internationalization. It helps to explain and understand which factors compel SMEs to take the fast track to internationalization or a stage-wise approach. A conceptual framework is developed that presents potential relationships between key concepts from the field of entrepreneurship on the one hand, and the degree of internationalization and performance of an internationalizing SME on the other. Our results suggest that internationalization may not just be the result of one or multiple push or pull factors, but that internationalization itself may significantly influence the international entrepreneurial orientation and the opportunity recognition capabilities of a firm. Consequently, internationalization may be seen as an independent variable, a fact that was largely neglected in past research on SME internationalization.