This paper analyzes the role of the owning family’s socio-emotional goals in explaining the level of exports in family small and medium enterprises (SMEs), while investigating the influence of family business essence as an antecedent of socio-emotional goals. A survey studying 46 French family SMEs and a model using partial least squares structural equation modeling reveal that two out of the five hypothesized socio-emotional goals exert an influence on exports intensity (one being positive and the other negative), while family business essence positively and significantly impacts four of the socio-emotional goals pursued by family owners. A positive relationship between the power and experience components of the familiness construct (F-PEC Scale), then between experience and the family business essence is also evidenced. The study helps to integrate previous empirical results regarding family business internationalization by combining the constructs of familiness and socio-emotional goals (the five dimensions of the latter being evaluated simultaneously) to provide a better explanation of the level of exports in family SMEs. It also addresses the issue of family firm heterogeneity by evidencing the role of family SMEs’ ownership structure, experience, and culture in shaping the various socio-emotional goals pursued by family business owners.