The internationalisation process in a company embodies a series of projects that are performed in different geographical regions. In some cases, especially in SMEs, companies are not capable of predicting the risks that will be faced during the process and they do not have suitable tools to manage the knowledge acquired in previous internationalisation experiences. Therefore, they fail to turn internationalisation into a sustainable competitive advantage. This paper reports the conclusions of a study based on both a bibliographic research and a comprehensive study of a group of industrial companies. This study includes the analysis of 37 internal reports about internationalisation experiences and the carrying out of semi-structured interviews with managers responsible for international operations. We have identified the main factors (risks) that prevent successful internationalisation processes and we have proposed a taxonomy of them. Furthermore, we have proposed a general framework (model) which provides a common perspective for all internationalisation projects, bringing coherence, and also a certain level of systematisation, to the decisions made in regards to different internationalisation projects. The model provides a systemic vision of the whole internationalisation process and we believe that companies can develop efficient learning systems based on this framework. It would give them differentiation and, therefore, help them to turn internationalisation into a sustainable competitive advantage.